Student loans

Preparing to apply to college this year? Here’s what you need to know about student loans.

Is your child preparing to apply to college this year? Or maybe you are a student and still confused about the student loan process.


Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) helps determine which federal assistance programs you qualify for. Some programs, such as grants, give money for college that you don’t need to pay back. Federally guaranteed loans are low interest loans that you must repay. Always consider federal assistance programs before private lenders.
The FAFSA generally opens on October 1 for the following academic year. It’s a good idea to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible so you can get all the financial help you’re entitled to. CLICK HERE for more information on deadlines.


If you need to borrow from private lenders, shop around and compare loan features and agreements to see which best suits your needs.

Unlike federal student loans, you can apply for private student loans at any time — but don’t wait until the last minute — or you risk missing a tuition payment if the funds aren’t disbursed on time.


Check the loan amount to see if it’s right for you. Often, lenders will offer you a loan that is much larger than what you need to pay for your education. Create a budget to determine how much loan you need and how much you can repay after you graduate. Borrowing too much means paying more interest in the long run.


Getting a co-signer for a private loan should be a last resort. If you have fully explored your federal loan options and cannot qualify for an affordable loan on your own, you may consider finding a co-signer. CAUTION: Your co-signer is responsible for paying the debt if you do not repay the loan. Both of your credit histories will be affected.


Avoid “free money” from organizations you don’t know. Many scam artists prey on students and parents with little or no credit with offers to loan money without a credit check.


Federal Student Aidwhich is part of the United States Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the country.