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With tuition fees not rising anywhere, many students have to borrow money to pay for their tuition. There are two choices for taking out student loans: federal and private. Federal loans are those made by the government, specifically the US Department of Education. Private loans are made by banks, credit unions and online lenders.
Federal student loans vs private student loans
Federal and private loans have the same goal: to allow students to finance their studies. The main difference is that federal loans offer better terms for borrowers than private loans.
First, federal loan interest rates are regulated and capped so borrowers don’t spend too much on interest. Private lenders can charge whatever interest they want. And while federal loans have fixed interest rates, private loan interest rates can vary and increase over time.
It’s also possible to get a federal loan without a co-signer or a credit check, so you don’t have to rely on someone else to get money for college. Private loans are often credit-based, and if yours isn’t good, you’ll usually need a co-signer. This is often the case for high school students without a credit history.
Federal loans come with certain features designed to make the repayment process easier. For example, if you fail to pay off your loans after you graduate, you can sign up for an income-based repayment plan, which recalculates your monthly loan payment as a reasonable percentage of your income. returned. There is also the option of deferring your loan payments if you are going through difficult financial times. Most private loans do not offer the same protections. Some lenders will work with you if you ask them for leeway.
Why Students Take Private Loans
If federal loans charge less interest than private loans and come with better terms, why are so many students borrowing privately for college? Because federal loans have a borrowing limit that limits the amount of money students can receive. Currently, this limit is $ 31,000 for undergraduate students who are also dependent (except for students whose parents cannot obtain PLUS loans). This $ 31,000 is not an annual limit. This is the total amount of federal loans you can take out for your undergraduate education.
Meanwhile, the average cost of tuition at a four-year public college in the state is $ 10,230 per year. Over four years, that’s $ 40,920 – more than the current federal loan limit. If you think it’s expensive, it’s only a fraction of the cost of tuition at public colleges and private universities out-of-state. Students who attend more expensive schools are even more likely to need private loans when their federal borrowing options run out.
Manage your private loans
There are several ways to make it easier to take out private loans. First of all, try to put extra money on the principal of your loan to eliminate it sooner. This could save you a lot of money on interest.
At the same time, pay attention to the interest rate on your loans. If it’s variable and continues to climb, consider refinancing your student loans. Refinancing is a fancy way of saying âswap an existing loan for anotherâ. Qualifying for a lower interest rate through refinancing will also lower your monthly payments.
Finally, if you’re having trouble paying off your private student loans, contact your lender. As mentioned earlier, there are some who will work with you if you run into any difficulties. They can allow you to temporarily defer payments or reduce your interest rate.
It is always beneficial to maximize your federal borrowing options before resorting to private loans. But if you need to borrow privately, try to find loans on the most favorable terms. Then be sure to pay them back as quickly as possible after you graduate.