Student Loans FAQ
How do I choose the right student loan for me?
You have many options when it comes to student loans for higher education. A few things to keep in mind:
Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or FAFSA). Without it, you won’t have access to federal student loans – many of which are not based on need or your income.
Always use federal loans first, such as the Perkins, Stafford, and PLUS loans. They carry lower, fixed interest rates and often have more favorable terms than private (or alternative) loans.
If you need to use private student loans, consider all of the costs. Private loans can have origination fees, different ways of compounding interest, and higher interest rates or APRs.
Know your credit score. The lower your score, the higher your rate will likely be on a private loan. Most student borrowers will need a credit-worthy co-signer to be approved for a private student loan. Most private loans have variable interest rates (meaning they will fluctuate over time), while government-backed (or federal) loans have fixed interest rates and more lenient repayment terms.
- Total cost of the loan (after all of the interest and fees are taken into account)
- APR or annual percentage rate
- Borrower rewards (such as cash back or interest rate reductions for making on-time payments)
- Monthly payment
- Deferment options
- How was this set of student loan results selected?
- SimpleTuition’s loan search and comparison tools save you time by doing the research for you. We connect you to the lender to apply for the right student loan for your borrowing needs.
SimpleTuition pre-screens loans based on your search criteria. We have up-to-date pricing and eligibility information from lenders, which allows us to present the most relevant loan options to you in an apples-to-apples comparison.
We filter loans based on the loan amount, student’s school, degree program, and state of residence, and monitor any changes due to events in the lender and credit industry.
As the economy changes, lenders have tightened their lending criteria or even stopped lending altogether. Some lenders will not allow borrowing by students at certain schools because of the risk the student will default on the loan. Lenders often restrict the amount that they will loan, and some lenders are not licensed to lend in certain states.
What are my repayment options?
Most student loans have a few options for when you can start repayment. If you are enrolled more than half-time, you usually do not have to make payments on the loan while you are in school. If the loan is in just a parent’s (or guardian’s) name, you often do have to repay the loan taken out for your child, unless you are also in school yourself. After you leave your program or graduate, your loan may include a grace period of anywhere from 3 months to a year during which you do not have to make repayments. Depending on the type of loan, interest may or may not accrue during both the in-school and grace periods.
When you first take out a loan, your lender may let you choose from three types of repayment options:
- No Deferment – where you must start repayment right away, even while still in school
- Interest-Only Payments – where you only make interest payments while you are in school
- Full Deferment – where you wait until you finish or leave school before payments begin
- Check with your lender for details on these and other options for repayment.
What information do I need to apply for a loan?
In order to complete an application for a private student loan with most lenders, you will need the following information:
- Your full name, social security number and date of birth
- Your permanent address and the number of years you have lived there (no P.O. boxes)
- The amount of your monthly rent or house payment
- Your home phone number
- Your current occupation and position
- The name of your employer and how long you have been employed by them
- The business phone number of your employer
- Your gross annual income
- The contact information for a reference (name, address, home/business phone number)
- The name of your school (or the school the student for whom the loan is for is attending)
- The social security number, contact and employment information for your co-signer (if applicable)
- Applying for federal student loans may require somewhat less information, but does require completion of the FAFSA.
When do I need to fill out the FAFSA? Is there a deadline?
You should fill out the FAFSA as soon as you can after January 1st of each year. Because the FAFSA asks for tax information from the previous calendar year, you may want to wait until your family has all of the necessary paperwork or has filed their income taxes. You can file the FAFSA before filing your income taxes using estimates, but you will need to go back later and correct any discrepancies.
The only deadline for filling out the FAFSA is June 30th at the end of the school year for which you are filing. In other words, for the 2013-2014 school year, the FAFSA will be available on January 1, 2013. You can file the FAFSA anytime between then and June 30, 2014. However, many states and schools allocate funds on a first-come, first-served basis, and some states have deadlines for filing the FAFSA to be eligible for certain kinds of aid. Please visit the Department of Education’s Student Aid on the Web for more information.
What happens if I cannot repay my loans?
Lenders will not forgive loans simply because the borrower could not find gainful employment or did not plan their budget well enough to include loan repayments. Generally speaking, a borrower has to have – and prove – mitigating circumstances in order to have their loan payments postponed or forgiven altogether. These instances are rare.
Two options that are sometimes available for postponing repayment of your student loans are deferment (when you can postpone repaying your loan principal and, in some cases, interest) and forbearance (when principal and/or interest payments may be suspended)
- Students who are enrolled in undergraduate or graduate school
- Disabled students who are participating in a rehabilitation training program
- Economic hardship
- Likewise, a forbearance is not automatically granted and required documented proof of extreme financial hardship or other unusual circumstances. For more information about deferments and forbearances, contact the financial aid office at the school that issued the loan or the original lender or current servicer of your loan.
Note that neither deferment nor forbearance is a given. Still, if you are concerned that you will not be able to repay your loan, you should definitely contact your lender to inquire about the possibility of deferment or forbearance. Make sure to make this inquiry before you miss payments. In most cases, if you default on your loan, you are no longer eligible for a deferment or forbearance.
General Student Loan Topics
- All Student Loans
- Apply for Loans Online
- Applying For College Loans
- Bank Loans
- Basic Information
- Blogs and Discussion Forums
- Borrower Benefits and Rewards
- Choosing the Best
- Continuing Education
- Dept of Education
- Get a Student Loan
- Government Loans
- GradPLUS Loan
- How to Compare
- Interest Rates
- National Student Loan Database
- New Mexico
- Parent PLUS Loans
- School Loan Interest Rates
- School Loans
- South Carolina
- South Carolina
- Student Resources
- US Department of Education Loan
- US Department of Education Loan Payment
- US Department of Education Loan Servicing
- US Department of Education Online Payment
- A Guide to Student Loan Lenders
- Be Smart About Private Student Loans
- Before Borrowing Student Loans
- Choosing Private Student Loans
- Choosing the Right One
- Choosing the Right Student Loan for You Video
- Compare Aid and Loan Packages by College Institution
- Education Loan Borrowing Process
- Hierarchy of Loans College on the Cheap
- Paying Off
- Rights Responsibilities As a Student Loan Borrower
- Student Loan Lessons Learned
- Student Resources for Financial Assistance
- Successful Application
- The Student Loan Checklist
- Tips on How Much to Borrow
- Do you need a co-signer for a private student loan? What do you think?
- How can I budget my personal expenses in college?
- I’m not sure I will be able to return to college in the fall, as my family’s finances have changed drastically. What can I do to stay in school?
- If I need money to pay college costs not covered by financial aid, what can I do?
- My financial aid package went down after my freshman year, even though my family’s finances didn’t change. What happened?
- Should a College Student Have a Credit Card
- Student Loans or Free Money
- What does APR stand for?
- What’s the average rate on student loans? Anyone know for sure?
- Why is a federal student loan better than a private student loan?
Miscellaneous Financial Aid Topics
- Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
- College Cost Calculator
- College Financial Aid
- College Loan Rates
- College Loans Parents
- College Savings Plan
- College Tuition Costs
- Cost of Attendance
- Credit Score
- Credit Score Student Loan
- Federal Student Loans Forgiveness
- Federal Vs Private
- Graduate School Funding
- Hope Education Credit
- Independent Student Status
- LIBOR And Prime Rates
- Loans for College
- Money For College
- Student Financial Aid Services
- Student Loan Calculator
- Student Resources