Figuring out where to get a student loan is often the first step to completing a college education. The rising cost of tuition combined with books, fees and living expenses may force you to seek out a loan even if you are fortunate enough to have a college fund at your disposal. When the cost of education reaches higher than the available funds, many students assume that government loans are the only option available. While the federal government offers several excellent options, they are not the only providers of education loans. Those in need can apply to private lenders such as banks and privately funded charitable organizations.
High school students who are planning on attending college are typically provided with a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or are directed to the FAFSA website where a form can be electronically submitted. But current students are not the only ones who can take advantage of FAFSA. Filing a FAFSA is available to anyone who is returning to school and the college or university you are applying to will guide you through the FAFSA process. The process will determine what, if any, free financial aid you may be entitled to as well as information about Federal Stafford loans.
Stafford loans typically offer a lower interest rate than other types of loans, are government secured and do not require collateral, co-signers or application fees. In addition, Stafford education loans offer flexible repayment programs. Payment is not expected while the student is in school at least half-time and payment deferments can be arranged under specific conditions such as unemployment.
Private student loans can be secured from financial institutions that do require collateral, a good credit history or a cosigner with a good credit history. Private lenders may charge additional fees such as application fees, origination fees and repayment fees that increase the amount of your loan significantly. Interest fees may fluctuate and repayment schedules may or may not offer flexibility. If you are interested in applying for a loan from a private lender, speak to the financial aid expert at your educational institute or apply directly at a lending institution such as a bank or credit union.
Some charitable organizations offer loans to community members in need. Trade organizations, secret societies, fraternities and sororities may also have loan programs for children of members in good standing. These types of loans can be difficult to find and sometimes require lengthy financial forms to show proof of need, multiple cosigners and strict repayment schedules. However, if you have exhausted other opportunities and still need money to pay for tuition, they may be worth the effort.
To increase your chances of getting the funds you need, speak to the financial aid expert at your college, visit the library and ask for assistance in researching local sources of educational loans. Don’t hesitate to tell your friends and family members that you are looking for a school loan. Someone close to you may be the link to finding the money you need to turn your dreams of a higher education into a reality.