College can be an expensive proposition, and many students find they need extra help. Don't let money stop you from getting an education though, there are numerous options for you in terms of student loans.
Perhaps the best known are the federal student loans, but you can also apply for loans at banks, credit unions, some employers, and other agencies. Do your homework and find out what are available for you.
The first step in applying for a loan is to complete the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you are a dependent child, your parents will have to complete this application. Don't wait until the last minute. If you need funding for fall, start the process in the winter of the previous year. If you start the summer before college starts, chances are good you will not get funded until winter or spring of the following year.
Once your FAFSA is approved, it will tell you how much money you are eligible for and what programs might be available. If you are eligible for Pell Grants, an income-based program that gives grants that don't need to be repaid, you will be told that as well.
As with any loan, you want to shop for the best rates and repayment terms. Usually, this is through federal loans, but not always. Make sure to talk to several lenders before applying. Be sure to discuss your financial aid needs with the college or university you plan to attend. They may have loans, grants, or scholarships you may not be aware of. If you are going to need student loans all the way through college, it's a good idea to develop a good relationship with the financial aid department early.
When you choose your student loans, make sure you understand the terms. Some loans accrue interest while you are in college, others defer it until you graduate. Tak it over with your parents, or your spouse if you are an adult, and make sure you get the best deal for you.
If you have a job or other source of income, you can see if your lender will let you apply without your parents as cosigners. This will help you build a credit history.
When you apply for student loans, make sure you include tuition, room, and board in your request. Tuition usually includes money for books and fees, while room and board includes not only housing and meals, but often a small stipend for miscellaneous expenses. However, don't make the mistake of spending it all at once. Student aid can be notorious for arriving late. Make sure you have a small cushion for the first few weeks of the term just in case. The university will let you register and will continue to feed you, but you may not have any money to pay extra bills like cell phone or credit cards.