Even with low-cost online programs, the bill for many degree programs is simply more than most students can handle out of pocket. Many students turn to scholarships and grants, but loans are also a great option for making up the difference you need to make school affordable for you. Contrary to what you may believe, finding a student loan for online studies is usually not difficult.
It’s essential that you’re informed of what you’re getting into with a student loan. This is a debt that may be with you for some time, and you do not want to end up with a loan that was once exactly what you needed, but eventually becomes a real burden.
Before you do anything, think carefully about exactly how much you need to cover for your college costs. Consider textbooks, tuition, and contributions from scholarships or grants. Borrow only what you need in order to avoid nonessential debt later.
Once you know what’s needed, consider what type of loan is best for you. The most popular are federal loans, offered as Stafford and Perkins loans. They are generally government subsidized, will not accrue interest while you study, and offer more flexibility in interest and payment. Private loans are also available, but because they are more expensive and less flexible, they are only recommended if absolutely necessary to close a gap between scholarships, grants, personal funds, and federal student loans.
Apply for federal loans using the FAFSA to find out what you are eligible for. Once you are approved, compare offers and shop around. You should talk to your school’s financial aid office to find out what they recommend, and look into non-profit lending agencies. Make use of loan calculators and find out which loan offer will work the best for you. Find out if your interest rate is variable, when you’ll have to make payments, penalties, and what happens if you decide to continue your education.
As an informed student loan consumer, you can avoid getting taken for a ride. Carefully look at all of the details involved with your student loan, and be sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. If you don’t think you’ll be able to handle your student loan, look into other options, like scholarships, grants, and even work study programs that can make up the difference.