Educational funding takes many forms, so students often utilize multiple financial aid resources to meet college expenses. Scholarships and grants are free-money gifts that shave college costs right off the top, but unpaid obligations often remain after gift-aid runs dry. Student loans fill the gap for under-funded applicants, but there are important distinctions to be made between available student loan options.
Government-sponsored loans are the backbone of the financial aid system, with subsidized and unsubsidized versions available for undergraduate and graduate level studies. Advantages include low, fixed interest rates and flexible repayment terms. Federal Direct Loans carry rates as low as 3.4%, and income-based payment plans accommodate a variety of repayment schedules.
Federal loans are issued without formal credit checks. They are altruistic vehicles, inherently designed to foster society’s educational development, so borrowers are held to a more relaxed standard. Unfortunately, students turning to the private loan sector are not coddled in the same way. To qualify for loans, for-profit lenders require applicants to exhibit strong credit histories.
Private, alternative loans carry advantages for student borrowers who utilize them:
- These loans can be utilized for any type of education.
- Borrowed amounts may exceed the cost of education
- Loans provide assistance for undergraduate, graduate, vocational and continuing education programs.
- For parents, alternative loans are available to help pay for private K-12 education.
Pros and Cons Associated With Alternative Student Loans
While scholarships and grants don’t require repayment, student loans eventually come due. To effectively manage student debt, it is important to keep borrowing levels within your means. Alternative loans are higher-priced, so indiscriminate borrowing has the potential to create difficulties after graduation. Ask prudent questions to determine your need for alternative student loans.
- Will you be earning any income while you are enrolled in college?
- Does your post-graduate earning potential support your repayment obligations?
Alternative Loan Strategy
Banks once acted as loan administrators for Stafford Loans and other federal financial aid products, but the way government loans are issued has changed. Today, student loans come directly from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, without call for a middle-man lender to disburse the funds. As a result, private banks and credit unions are now resigned to providing alternative financing, outside the federal system.
Alternative lenders define their own loan standards, so not all student aid products are created equally. These lenders have been active recently, providing alternative loans for higher education:
Student banking representatives are prepared to answer specific questions about available programs. Not every lender, or alternative loan, is suited to your educational purposes. Interest rates, loan limits, repayment terms and other features each have significant impacts of the character of a given loan. Strive to match your borrower and loan program to the educational funding needs at hand.
Applying for an Alternative Student Loan
Alternative student loans are more credit-based than their federally-backed counterparts. Lenders seek assurances that loans will be repaid on time, which presents a stumbling block for some students. Younger people have not engaged in extensive credit interactions – no mortgage, etc. As a result, the extent and types of credit contained on a student’s payment history are often insufficient to prove credit-worthiness to bankers.
A private student loan is a financing option for higher education in the United States that can either supplement or replace federally guaranteed loans such as Stafford loans, Perkins loans and PLUS loans. These may offer forbearance and deferral options. Fees vary greatly, and legal cases have reported fees reaching 50% of amount of the loan...
Private student loans, also known as alternative loans, are a source of financial aid for students who have exhausted the availability of federal student loans or who have otherwise not used federal student loans. Students use private student loan funds to pay for the cost of their education and also to pay for living expenses while they are in...