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How to Get a Student Loan? Everything You Need to Know!

How to Get a Student Loan

Getting a good education is the foundation to success. Everyday, the costs for attaining a college degree steadily rise, leading to the need of external financial support. As a rescue, student loans show up. It connects your dreams and aspirations to reality. But the question is, “how to get a student loan?” Worry not! We’ve got your back!

This is our comprehensive guide about what is a student loan, its various types, and what to know about student loans before you acquire one! Let’s embark on this journey, and figure out a way to get the ideal student loan for you.

What is a Student Loan?

Student loans cover all college-related costs, such as textbooks, tuition, and living expenses. Federal student loans and private student loans are the two categories. The interest rate, repayment alternatives, and consumer protection are based on the kind of loan you choose. Like other types of loans, student loans are money that you borrow and will have to pay back, along with any interest and fees. 

Find out how student loans work below so that you can confidently take one out and pay it back.

How do Student Loans work?

When you borrow money, the lender will charge you interest, which is often stated as a percentage of the amount borrowed. Student loans may have variable interest rates, which change over time depending on specific economic situations, or fixed interest rates, which stay the same throughout the loan's term.

Interest starts to accumulate on the majority of student loan types as soon as you get the funds. This implies that the loan you obtained your freshman year will accumulate interest while you are a student, and if you wait to start making payments until you graduate, your debt will be more than what you borrowed initially. Federally subsidized loans are an exception to this rule. If you're eligible for one of these, the government will cover the interest while you're in school or while your loans are put on hold.

Any interest that has accumulated since your last payment is paid with the first installment of a student loan that you make. The balance of your loan is then reduced by any sum that is left over. When you initially begin paying back your loans, interest fees will take up a significant amount of your payments. However, more and more of your payments will go straight toward your loan debt as it gradually decreases and you make more repayments.

What are the Types of Student Loans?

"Federal student loans" are loans from the federal government, while "private student loans" are loans from companies like banks, credit unions, and online lenders. 

A. Federal Loans

The government of the United States gives out federal student loans. By filling out the FAFSA, you can find out if you can get a federal loan. Except for PLUS loans, most federal student loans do not check your credit history. Their interest rates are also not based on their credit scores. Instead, they are set by federal law and are usually lower than rates for private loans. It makes federal loans to be the best way to get student loans.

They are of four types: 

1. Direct Subsidized Loans:

Available to undergraduates based on how much money they need. How much you can get relies on how far along you are in school and whether or not you are financially independent from your parents. Since these loans are backed by the government, you don't have to pay interest while you're in school or when your payments are put on hold. However, it does start to add up when you finish school or drop below half-time status.

2. Direct Unsubsidized Loans:

Available to all college, graduate, and professional students, no matter how much money they need. Since these loans are not backed by the government, interest is always added.

3. The Direct PLUS Loans:

Available to graduate and professional students, as well as parents of college students with dependents, to help pay for costs that other forms of financial aid don't cover. For example, you could choose a straight PLUS loan if you get some subsidized or unsubsidized loans but need more money to fill in a funding gap. If you want a PLUS loan, you need to have your credit checked.

4. Direct Consolidation Loans:

With this choice, you can put all of your federal student loans into one loan with a single interest rate and loan servicer. This can lengthen the time you have to pay back the loan, which can lower your monthly payment, but it could mean you pay more in interest over time.

B. Private Loans

Private student loans usually come from credit unions, banks and any private finance company. Such loans usually need a cosigner and come with fixed or changeable interest rates. The government doesn't pay the interest on private student loans like it does on unsubsidized federal loans, so you'll have to start paying it back as soon as you get the money. If you have good credit or a cosigner with good credit, you may be able to get a private loan with a lower interest rate. Most private loans do not have any application fees.

They are of two types:

1. Undergraduate Loans:

Private loans for colleges often have different ways to pay them back, and borrowers may even get a refund on their debt once they finish. But unlike federal student loans, private student loans for undergraduates often need a co-signer. The co-signer is an adult who offers to pay off all of your student loans if you don't pay them back. The co-signer is required because college students don't have a credit history built in.

Most of the time, the interest rates on private student loans for undergraduates are higher than those for graduate students. In addition, there are lower limits on how much an undergraduate can borrow.

2. Graduate Loans:

Private lenders of student loans may have choices for graduate school, law school, medical school, business school, and other types of schooling. For graduate or professional students, private loans are less likely to need a co-signer than loans for undergraduates. They usually let you borrow more money, give you more time to pay it back, and charge less interest.

In many cases, private graduate student loans also come with features that are special to the needs of graduate school. For example, some lenders offer long pause periods and delay periods while the student is still in school, as well as another deferment period while the student completes a residency.

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How to get a Student Loan?

Few students can make enough money while going to school to pay for college. That's why more and more people are taking out student loans. The average balance on federal student loans is $37,717, while the total average balance (including private loan debt) can reach $40,505. Let's look at how to get college loans for both types of student loans.

How to get a Federal Loan?

43.6 million the public owe money on their federal student loans. Like them, you can also acquire a federal student loan. Here’s how to take out student loans:

  • Fill out the FAFSA form

To make sure you get all the financial help you're eligible for, you should fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible in the year. Some types of help, like government work-study, are given to students in the order that they apply. The FAFSA can be filled out online.

You need a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID and password to fill out the FAFSA. When you send in the FAFSA, you'll get a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is an overview of the information you gave. Your expected family contribution (EFC) will be in the top right area of the SAR. Schools use your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to figure out how much money your family can spend on college costs and, by extension, how much financial help you'll get.

Choose the Type of Federal Loan 

Among the types of student loans we discussed earlier, you can choose any one type of loan that is ideal for you. 

First-YearSecond YearThird-Year Students and BeyondAggregate Loan Limit throughout College
Direct Subsidized Loans$3,500$4,500$5,500$23,000
Direct Unsubsidized Loans$5,500-$9,500$6,500-$10,000$7,500-$12,500$31,000-$57,500

PLUS loans don't have limits on how much you can borrow. You can borrow up to the total cost of attendance, less any other financial help you get. In contrast to straight subsidized and unsubsidized loans, users of PLUS loans have to go through a credit check. If you have a bad credit history, which means that your credit report shows past bankruptcies, foreclosures, or pay garnishments, you won't be able to get a loan unless a friend or family member with good credit co-signs the loan for you.

For the academic year 2024-25, the interest rates are

Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan for Undergraduate3.73%
Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized for Graduate5.78%
PLUS Loans6.78%

How to get a Private Loan?

Borrowers with good credit scores and long credit records, like parents and college students, may be able to get private loans with reasonable interest rates. The overall amount of private loan debt in the U.S. is more than $120 billion, which is 8.4% of the total amount of student loan debt. 

  • Understand Credit Requirements

To get a loan, your credit score needs to be between good and great. Most lenders want your credit score to be at least 650. Borrowers must also prove that they make enough money to pay back the loan.

  • Find a Co-Signer

As a college student, you might not have a credit background yet, and you might not make enough money or have enough credit to meet the lender's base standards. If that's the case, you can still get a loan if you have someone else sign with you.

A co-signer is a parent, cousin, or friend with good credit who applies for the loan with you and takes responsibility for the loan if you don't pay it back. 

  • Compare Multiple Platforms

Interest rates, payback terms, and perks for private loans can change a lot from one lender to the next, so it's a good idea to look at multiple firms in order to find the best loan for you.

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How to get College Loans:

Factors to Consider before you get a Private Loan

You should consider the following when you examine various private lending options:

  • Options for repayment: There is no grace period available for private loans when it comes to repayment. You could need to make payments even while you're still in school. Make sure you are always aware of your total debt, as well as when the principal and interest are due.
  • many interest rate types: Government loans have fixed interest rates, which means they never vary. Private student loans, however, may have fixed or adjustable interest rates. Loans with variable rates may initially be more affordable than loans with fixed rates, but the rates are subject to fluctuation.
  • Options for those in challenging circumstances: Some lenders allow you to temporarily cease paying payments if you're in a difficult financial circumstance or are experiencing a health condition. Make a note of how many months throughout the loan's duration you may cease paying payments by checking each lender's policies.
  • Repayment periods: Private loan repayment periods typically range from five to twenty years. On loans with shorter durations, interest rates are often cheaper. Longer loan terms result in lower monthly payments but higher total interest costs.
  • Co-signer release: If you have a co-signer on your loan, you may be able to ask the lender for a co-signer release after making a certain number of on-time payments. If you are unable to repay the loan, this might assist safeguard your co-signer's credit. Depending on whether you pay automatically or stick with a lender for a while, some offer cheaper interest rates.
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How to Repay Student Loans?

Federal student loans have a variety of ways to pay them back, which can be very helpful because it lets you choose the payback time or plan that works best for you. In addition to the usual ways to pay back a student loan, the federal government offers:

  • With a graduated payback plan, your monthly payments start out low and go up over time, so you still pay off the loan in the normal 10 years.
  • Income-based payback plans let you pay back your debt each month based on how much money you make, usually between 10 and 15% of your income.
  • Income-based payback plans let you figure out your payments based on how much money you have left over after you pay for set costs.
  • Extended repayment plans are made to be paid off in 25 years, either with set payments or payments that increase over time.

How to take student loans on private terms depends on the lender. You may find that your lender wants you to pay back your loan while you are still in school. However, there may be ways to put off paying back your loan. During a delay and grace time for students still in school, interest continues to build up.

Student loans are a great way to pay for college if you don't have the money to pay for it yourself. But it's important to know how loans work so there are no problems when it's time to start paying back the loan.

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How to get a Student Loan: Alternative Methods

Know that there are ways to get money for education besides student loans that may work better for you. 

  • Scholarships: A scholarship is a gift that doesn't have to be paid back. Most scholarships are given based on how good you are, not how much money you need. People can get grants from schools, private groups, and nonprofits, and the FAFSA may be used as a way to see if they qualify.
  • Grants: Like scholarships, grants are money that you don't have to pay back. Grants are available from the federal government, the states, universities, and business organizations. The federal government gives out four types of grants: Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants.
  • Work-study: You may be eligible for the federal work-study programme if you fill out the FAFSA. With federal work-study, you can get a part-time job in your field of study and use the money you make to help pay for some of your school costs.

Using these types of financial help, or a mix of all three, can lower the amount you need to borrow in student loans and lower the cost of going to school.

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Summing Up…

This blog tells you everything you need to know about student loans. The most important thing to remember is that millions of people get student loans and easily pay them back. Even though getting student loans can be easy, it's important to have a concrete plan of repayment. 

Frequently Asked Question

Q.1 Do student loans affect the credit?

No, not always. In fact, just like with any other loan, if you pay off your student loans on time, it will be good for your credit. But if you don't pay back your loan on time or don't pay it back at all, it can be detrimental for your credit score.

Q.2 Can I get a student loan without involving parents?

Yes, you can get student loans without help from your parents. Federal student loans can be used without a cosigner or a parent.

Q.3 Where can I fill the FAFSA form?

Fill out the FAFSA if you want to get a federal student loan. To do this, go to StudentAid.gov and give the necessary information: Driver's license, social security number, school information, and household income.