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Student Loans

Student loans are loans offered to students to assist in payment
of the costs of professional education. These loans usually carry a lower interest rate than other loans and are usually issued by the government. Often they are supplemented by student grants which do not have to be repaid.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans in the United States are available to college and university students via funds disbursed directly to the school and are used to supplement personal and family resources, grants, scholarships, and work-study. They may be subsidized by the U.S. Government or may be unsubsidized depending on the student's financial need.

Both subsidized and unsubsidized loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Education either directly or through guaranty agencies. Nearly all students are eligible to receive federal loans (regardless of credit score or other financial issues). Both types offer a grace period of six months, which means that no payments are due until six months after graduation or after the borrower becomes a less-than-half-time student without graduating. (See Staffoed Loans and Direct Loans for more information.)

Private Student Loans

These are loans that are not guaranteed by a government agency and are made to students by banks or finance companies. Advocates of private student loans suggest that they combine the best elements of the different government loans into one: They generally offer higher loan limits than federal student loans, ensuring the student is not left with a budget gap. But unlike federal parent loans, they generally offer a grace period with no payments due until after graduation (this grace period ranges as high as 12 months after graduation, though most private lenders offer six months). However, some higher education advocates are private loan detractors because of the higher interest rates, multiple fees, and lack of borrower protections private loans carry that are not associated with federal loans.

Private Student Loan Types

Private loans generally come in two types: school-channel and direct-to-consumer.

School-channel loans offer borrowers lower interest rates but generally take longer to process. School-channel loans are 'certified' by the school, which means the school signs off on the borrowing amount, and the funds for school-channel loans are disbursed directly to the school.

Direct-to-consumer private loans are not certified by the school; schools don't interact with a direct-to-consumer private loan at all. The student simply supplies enrollment verification to the lender, and the loan proceeds are disbursed directly to the student. While direct-to-consumer loans generally carry higher interest rates than school-channel loans, they do allow families to get access to funds very quickly — in some cases, in a matter of days. Some argue that this convenience is offset by the risk of student over-borrowing and/or use of funds for inappropriate purposes, since there is no third-party certification that the amount of the loan is appropriate for the education finance needs of the student in question.

Direct-to-consumer private loans are the fastest growing segment of education finance and under legislative scrutiny due to the lack of school certification. Loan providers range from large education finance companies to specialty companies that focus exclusively on this niche. Such loans will often be distinguished by the indication that "no FAFSA is required" or "Funds disbursed directly to you."


Student Loan Articles

Student Loan Repayment Information

Postponing Your Student Loan Repayment

Paying for College ... The Smart Way

Student Loans: Avoiding Deceptive Offers

Student Loan Consolidation

Direct Loan Repayment Plans

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Student Loan Debt

 


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