As the cost of college expenses continues to rise, students and parents alike are scrambling each academic year to get the money needed to begin school or continue school. While no one will argue against the fact that lenders and loan providing companies are making a killing in this world of expensive education, students can still get great deals on student loans in a variety of ways.
However before considering student loans it is crucial that every student fills out a FAFSA form each and every year they plan to attend college. This free federal form is simple and easy to fill out and helps both the federal government and the college determine eligibility for need based financial aid. Many students and parents overlook the FAFSA and lose out dearly because of this misstep. Private loans which have the highest interest rates, do not require the FAFSA completion and so many people simply go right to the private loans.
Filling out the FAFSA takes about 20 minutes or so online and can potentially help you save tens of thousands of dollars in interest and even in loan money over the years. Many schools and also the goverment give out need based grants (that don’t need to be paid back) ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars each year per eligible student. These are in addition to any scholarship money given by the school as well as other grants one might recieve through contests, organizaions, and so forth.
The FAFSA also allows a student to become eligible in most cases for federal financial loans with interest rates that are generally half those of private loans if not even less. Federal loans offer the lowest interest rates in the market consistently and many schools work with particular lenders who handle these federal loans without charging extra fees. Plus unlike private loans, federal loans never require a cosigner, can be consolidated after school easier then private loans, and can even be forgiven in some cases.
Private loans should be a last resort to consider and should be used only if extra funds are needed after all grants, scholarships, and federal loans have been put towards the cost of the school year. As a student borrower you also have federally protected rights to choose from a list of lenders who service both federal and private loans which can save you even more money if you select lenders who waive fees, charge lower disbursment and repayment fees, and may offer flexible repayment options.