College Loans

Written by Liza Hartung
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When it comes to college loans, you have several options. If you are going to a particularly expensive school, you might have to use a few loans. When I was in college, I had school-based financial aid, a Stafford Loan, a Plus Loan and a grant. You're probably wondering where to begin. First, choose the schools that interest you and that you are likely to get into. A scholarship to a school you have no interest in does you no good whatsoever.

The school that you choose to go to will determine how much you need to apply for. Add together the tuition, fees and related school expenses (like textbooks, lab fees, food, housing, transportation and whatever else you feel is relevant). If you have any money saved for college, factor that in to your overall total. This should give you a good idea of how large a loan you'll need to apply for.

Choices of Loans

All federal loans are given specifically for college. This means that your interest rates will be low. In addition, you won't have to begin paying them off until after you graduate. However, if you take out any of these loans, you will be required to sit through two loan-counseling sessions. The first occurs when you begin school and the other is right before you graduate. I did them--they aren't that bad.

A Stafford Loan is for graduates and undergraduates. A Plus Loan is for parents of undergraduates. If you need additional funds, you might want to look into private loans. The Stafford Loans come both subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized means you don't start to accrue interest until you begin to pay your loan back. Unsubsidized means your interest takes effect immediately.

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