Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Dec 2, 2020

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With the cost of higher education rising every day, many people aim to fund their college programs by means of student loans. They try to use either private or federal student loans as a vehicle to get their college degrees. By doing this, they end up postponing the majority of college costs until after they finish graduation so that they have a better chance of settling their debts fast by securing good paying jobs.

Student loans become part of financial aid that has to be repaid in reasonable instalments. It can be noted that most student loans are part of the Direct Federal Loan Program through the William D. Ford grant. This is with the exception of some alternative and private loans.

The options that are available to the students in the United States of America are numerous:

  • To begin with, the Federal Perkins Loan is a loan that is federally subsidized. This indicates that the federal government will pay the interest as long as the students are enrolled in the school or university at least for half of the tenure. The Perkins Loan provides a very low interest rate which is fixed at five per cent per annum. These loans are granted depending on the financial needs of individual students.
  • The Stafford Loan is also a Federal Direct subsidized one. It is need-based. The federal government will pay the interest as it is subsidized while the students are enrolled in a school or a college for at least half of the tenure of their graduation or diploma program.
  • Then there is the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. This is not subsidized by the federal government. The students have the responsibility of the payment of interest while they are enrolled in the school or college. They have the possibility of deferring the interest payments until the repayment schedule begins.

As you can observe, there are several student loan products on view for undergraduate students. It is wiser for the students, though, to explore all possibilities of federal loan options, grants and scholarships and exhaust them before expanding their search to private student loans. This is mainly because of the reason that the federal educational loans carry terms which are more beneficial to them than the private loan programs and their terms and conditions.

There are few websites that are dedicated in helping the students do an analytical study of lender selection available when it comes to student lending on a private basis. You have to ask the right questions:

  • Whom should you borrow from if you are enrolled for less than half time? – The answer could be Sallie Mae, Wells Fargo and RISLA. You will have to be a resident of Rhode Island to qualify for the third one.
  • Who can you borrow from if you are not making good academic progress? – The answer could be EDvestinU, PNC, RISLA, Citizens Bank, Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo.
  • Who can you borrow from if you are in a certificate program? – The answer could be PNC, Sallie Mae, Wells Fargo, CHESLA and RISLA. These private lenders offer few programs based on the degree type.