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How To Take Out Student Loans – Federal and Private Ones

student loan

The education system in the USA has long-standing traditions and established canons, but, despite this, it is recognized as the most democratic. There is no unified education system in the USA, the state does not have the right to establish any rules on education or the education system. All issues related to education are regulated at the state level. Decentralization is the most characteristic feature of the American education system. The US education system has 4 classical stages – preschool, primary, secondary and higher education. Moreover, higher education in the USA has its own additional system, which has its own characteristics in each state.

It is a known fact that education in the United States is very expensive that’s why many students start searching for extra cash to cover tuition obligations. Besides, there are small student loans issued to cover some living stuff. Let’s realize on how students in the USA reach their goal to enter a university.

Table of contents

  1. Types of student loans
  2. What are federal student loans?
  3. How to take out a federal student loan?
  4. What are private student loans?
  5. How to apply for a private student loan?
  6. Federal student loans vs. private student loans
  7. Should you apply for federal or private student loans?
  8. What expenditures are student loans covered?
  9. How to repay a student loan?
  10. Tips on how to issue these types of loans

Types of student loans

There are 3 types of educational loans in the United States: private, parent, and federal student loan. Moreover, the range of expenses that can be covered by educational loans is quite wide, this is not only tuition fees, but also payment for accommodation and purchase of class books.

The recipients of the parental educational credit are the parents of the future student who is dependent on them. Accordingly, in order to obtain a loan, the student’s parents must be solvent and have the opportunity to service it. The amount of this lending option relates to the cost of training, the term, as a rule, does not exceed 10 years, and the interest rate cannot exceed 9% per annum.

The amount of the interest rate on this student loan is approved annually by the US Congress, payments on the borrowed funds must begin 2 months after its issuance and the amount must be at least $50 per month. Under this student loan, during the student’s studies, his parents are given the opportunity either to make interest payments for the use of credit funds, or to begin repayment of the loan body issued.

Federal student loans are issued under the guarantee of the US Government. These loans are issued without taking into account the principle of solvency, so access to loans of this category is quite simple, but the possibility of getting such loans exists only for US citizens and persons who are legal migrants. The government provides guarantees to banks that issue loans to students, while the interest rate is also determined by the Federal Government. Basically, the rate is related to the value of the refinancing rate and is in the 4-8.25% corridor. The rate formed according to this scheme is usually acceptable for the vast majority of students.

Federal student loans are divided into two categories: subsidized and unsubsidized. The right to receive a subsidized educational loan is granted, first of all, to students who have deep financial problems. The scheme of payments for this credit category is quite attractive, payments can be started at the end of the education period, the payment of interest during the period of study is assumed by the state. Examples of such federal loans may be the Perkins Federal Loan and the Subsidized Stafford Loan.

Unsubsidized student loans are provided to future trainees regardless of their financial situation, the student has the opportunity not to make payments on the lending optio received during the period of study at a higher educational institution, however, interest is accrued on a monthly basis and increases the total debt amount. Repayment of obligations on unsubsidized loans in full should be made at the expense of the student. This group of financial products includes a private educational loan (private), unsubsidized Stafford loan, as well as a parent loan. In addition, mixed options can be used for student lending.

The Perkins student loan is a federal credit issued to students from the least affluent families. This lending option is issued by the university participating in the program, then the funds received by the student are returned after graduation. The current interest rate on it is quite low, as a rule, it is at the level of 5% per annum, preferential repayment terms are given for the loan. The minimum amount is not defined, the maximum is $4,000 in a year, a student has the opportunity to apply for a loan of this type for 5 years. At the same time, the amount received will depend on the period of applying for a loan, the financial situation of the student, as well as the size of the credit funds of a particular educational institution.

What are federal student loans?

A federal student loan, also characterized as a government loan, makes students and parents/guardians legit to borrow extra funds for college directly from the federal government. A free application for federal student aid is a form that current and future college students in the United States fill out to determine their eligibility for financial assistance. The FAFSA differs from the CSS profile, which is also required by some colleges.

How to take out a federal student loan?

It is free to apply for a federal student loan. All you need to do is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (abb. FAFSA). In addition to defining eligibility for the federal program, the FAFSA also specified whether a trainee may qualify for other federal student loans like grants and work-study. You need to submit the FAFSA annually you’re enrolled in college to get federal student aid.

The simpliest and fastest way to fill in the FAFSA and check up your compliance with the applicable requirements for federal student loans is online. Your application will be reviewed within 3-5 days. You can also mail in a paper application, but it will take about 7-10 days to review the form.

Criteria and requirements for a federal educational loan

There are the following criteria on how to qualify for federal student loans:

  • Have a valid Social Security number. Every applicant must be recorded with the compulsory military service. Male students between 18-25 have to record with the selective service to receive credits.
  • Be a citizen or eligible noncitizen. Immigrants with no documents are not eligible to receive federal or state funding. Permanent residents with green cards can apply for financial assistance. Immigrants with T-1, battered-immigrant-qualified alien, or refugee status may also be eligible.
  • Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED or certificate from a homeschooling program.
  • Enlist in an eligible school/college/university. Students at ineligible schools might not qualify for federal aid. Some schools also choose not to receive federal financial assistance.
  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Any high school student interested in financial aid needs to fill in the FAFSA, a form that asks for your family’s financial information to define how much you qualify for. Without this application, you won’t get an approval for any federal loans, scholarships or grants.
  • Having complied with all their explicit obligations. Students can’t be in default on other federal loans or owe money on a federal grant. Keep a 2.0 GPA. Students need to keep a 2.0 cumulative GPA or risk losing the ability to get financial aid until their grades become higher.
  • Be at part-time status or more. Future applicants must be considered part-time to be eligible for loans. Each college determines what part-time and full-time status means, so ask your financial aid officer how many credits you’ll need to take.


  • Flexibility
    Federal student loans generally offer more flexible terms and rates than private student ones. For example, with federal student loans, the borrower can change their repayment methods even after this lending option has been deposited (sent to your school).
  • Make payments based on your income
    Some federal student loans allow for income-based repayment plans, which define payments based on the borrower’s income and family size.
  • You don’t need a positive credit history
    Federal student loans don’t require the borrower to have a strong credit history. This can be especially efficient for applicants who have a desire on visiting college but haven’t had enough time to create your credit history of their own.
  • You don’t need a cosigner.
    The borrower’s credit score is not reviewed, so it’s not necessary to apply with a cosigner.

What are private student loans?

Private student loans are a financing option for higher education in the United States that can complement, but should not replace, federal loans such as Stafford, Perkins and PLUS loans. Private credit options for students that are widely advertised do not have the deferral options available with federal ones. Unlike federally subsidized loans, interest is accrued while the student is in college, although repayment can only begin after graduation.

Although unsubsidized federal loans accrue interest during a student’s studies, rates on private student loans are often higher, and sometimes much higher. The fees vary greatly, and in court cases it is reported that collection fees reach 50% of the amount. Since 2011, most private student loans are offered with zero commission, which effectively switches commission with interest rates.

Interest rates and terms are set by the financial institution that provides the credit guarantee, usually based on the assumption that the borrower may have a late payment or default on the financial product. Most lenders set interest rates based on 4-6 levels of credit ratings. The underwriting decision is complicated by the fact that students often do not have a certificate indicating creditworthiness. As a result, interest rates can vary significantly from one lender to another, and some companies/services/lenders have variable interest rates. More than 90% of private student loans to undergraduate students and more than 75% of private student loans to graduate students require a creditworthy co-sponsor.

Unlike other consumer loans, Congress has granted student loans, both federal and private, tax-exempt from dismissal (cancellation) in case of personal bankruptcy, except in cases when repayment presents excessive difficulties for the borrower and his dependents. This is a serious limitation that students rarely realize when getting this financial assistance.

Financial assistance, including cash advance, cannot exceed the cost of maintenance.

How to apply for a private student loan?

If we speak to searching for the lender to issue right private student loan, you will be required to do some searching procedure. One simple option is to get reviews of top private student lenders to compare terms and rates offered.

You can also communicate with your school principle to get if they obtain a list of preferred lenders. Make sure you search for the correct loan for your education level (graduate or undergraduate).

You should compare interest rates, payment terms and fees to find the most cost-efficient lending option that meets your needs. The most reliable credit unions will allow you to do this procedure online through a quick pre-qualification that won’t make any effect on your credit rating. Once you find your best offer, you should be capable to fill in the full formal application online as well.

Federal student vs. private student loans

Federal student loans Private student loans
Fixed interest rates: 4.99% to 7.54% Variable interest rates: 2.99% to 13.65% fixed, 0.94% to 11.98%
The term: 10 years The term: 5 to 20 years
Amounts: Up to $31,000 total for dependent undergraduates, $57,500 for independent undergraduates and 100% total cost of attendance for graduates Amounts: Often up to 100% total cost of attendance
Where to apply: FAFSA Where to apply: Lender websites
Income-driven repayment plans, forgiveness options, extended deferment and forbearance Low starting rates, no origination fees in most cases, different repayment options
Higher rates for good-credit borrowers, no variable rates High rate caps, few borrower protections
Most borrowers accepted Accepted: Borrowers with extremely good credit who plan to pay off their loan quickly

Should you apply for federal or private student loans?

The standard recommendation with student loans is that you should first apply for all possible federal lending options. Only then every future student may submit an application for a private loan if necessary.

Since you won’t need to go through a credit check or find a co-signer for federal student loans, they’re easier to get approved for. More importantly, you’ll have the option of income-based repayment plans and the potential for loan forgiveness.

What expenditures are student loans covered?

Determining the total cost of a loan is the first step in understanding what costs a student credit can cover. Then you may need to take into account financial aid and scholarships based on the any purposes. Finally, if you are approved by a lender, the credit amount will depend on several factors.

To better understand the total cost, let’s first analyze the expenditures that you can incur as a foreign student while studying at school:

  • training;
  • living expenses;
  • food expenses;
  • Student Health Insurance;
  • books;
  • materials;
  • transportation costs;
  • other university fees.

The exact list will depend on the school/college/university. You should visit your future school’s website to find relevant information about the total cost of attendance.

Often you can look for financial aid and scholarship options depending on your needs before trying to find a student loan. Thus, schools can deduct any scholarships or financial aid provided to you from the total cost of attendance to determine the amount of funding you can receive from a lender. This is important because the school may need to check the amount with the lender before paying off the borrowed funds. Once you know your total tuition cost, you may have to deduct the school scholarships or financial aid you received, depending on your needs, to determine the maximum amount that the school can afford to cover.

Secondly, the lender will determine the size of the cash advance. The amount may depend on many factors. Eventually you will need to go through the application process with the lender to see the amount of expenses that can be covered if they are approved by the lender.

How to repay a student loan?

Depending on the loan program, there may be different repayment options if you are approved. Repayment can take place over various periods, but usually the repayment term is from 10 to 15 years. Some lenders may allow the borrower to defer payment until you graduate. This is called a “grace period” and can last up to 6 months after graduation. However, other lenders may require you to make some kind of monthly payment while you are in school, for example, paying only interest. This may vary depending on the lender and what makes the most financial sense for you. It is best that you understand exactly what is expected of you financially before taking out a student loan from any lender.

Tips on how to issue these types of loans

You need to think very carefully before taking out a loan. Weigh all the pros and cons, evaluate your expenses and income. Perhaps it’s just worth cutting costs a little, and you won’t need to take out extra funds. Before planning to get a credit, you need to sensibly assess your own capabilities. After all, the money will have to be approved for you, and even with interest.

If you are determined to take out a lending option, you need to calculate exactly how much money you need for utilities, groceries, travel. Divide the rest of the income in half. As a result, you will get the amount that you can give monthly to the bank and not be the red. The creditworthiness calculator will help you with calculations.

The next step in getting cash advance should be choosing the type of credit. All loans are subdivided into targeted and non-targeted (personal). Target loans are issued only for specific purposes: construction, animal husbandry, business development, training, etc. Target loans often turn out to be cheaper than non-target, because the bank has the ability to monitor the spending of funds.

Once you have decided on the credit purpose, start looking for a suitable bank. Pay attention to such credit terms as the amount of interest rates, the presence of commissions, requirements for collateral or surety, customer reviews.

Be sure to ask what the effective interest rate will be. For the client, this is an important indicator by which you can find out the full cost, including commissions and payment for the services of third parties.

If you see the rate with an indicator “starting from” on the website, be sure to ask about the “to” rate, so that it does not happen that you applied for a rate of 15% per annum, and you will issue the credit at the rate of 40%.

You should not rely only on advertising or listen to the advice of relatives and friends. Independently study what terms are offered by banks and microfinance organizations. Many borrowers make a big mistake: they go to the first institution you come across and agree to the first offer. It is recommended to study several loans in order to choose the most suitable option. Do not be lazy to spend time on this item. It will help to avoid mistakes and save your money.

In this case, you will be helped by the key data about a potential loan collected in various credit institutions, which are filled out free of charge in all credit institutions according to the standard form.

It is worth keeping in mind: it is best to take out a loan in the income currency. After all, when signing a contract in a foreign currency, the bank automatically shifts all possible currency risks to the borrower.

And then everything is simple: you collect documents, submit an application and sign an agreement. And here at this point you need to be extremely careful. Read everything that is written in it. And you need to do this before you sign the contract. Feel free to do it at the bank. This approach is much better than later discovering unpleasant surprises or unsuitable conditions in the contract. Each credit institution, upon your request, is obliged to provide the text of the agreement for 1-3 days for study.

Remember that signing a contract means agreeing to all its terms and accepting obligations to fulfill them. In case of non-fulfillment or improper fulfillment of obligations in accordance with the agreement, the credit institution has the right to foreclose on the collateral in accordance with the legislation in an out-of-court or judicial procedure. In this connection, the agreement should be signed only if you understand all its terms and accurately represent all its consequences.