What options are available?
- First, complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Be sure to take full advantage of scholarships/grants and consider making use of the federal Stafford Loan program.
- Next, consider the following loan programs in order to complete your college financing package and ensure that you can meet your expenses:
- Federal Parent PLUS Loan
This loan is available for parents of dependent undergraduate students. This loan can cover up to 100% of remaining education-related expenses. A credit check is required, but the parent’s debt and current income are not considered.
- Private (or alternative) student loans
These loans are made available to students through banks and other private lenders. These loans can typically cover 100% of the remaining eligible education-related expenses. A credit check is required and many students—particularly undergraduate students—will need to apply with a qualified adult cosigner to increase the likelihood of being approved and receiving the best pricing and terms.
- Federal Parent PLUS Loan
- Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find the estimated starting salary for various careers and use Mapping Your Future’s Debt Wizard Calculator to help determine how much student loan debt you can manage based on your starting salary upon graduation.
Important note: Be aware that all types of student loans need to be repaid. As you make your plans, give serious consideration to the total amount you may need to borrow to cover your entire education. Do not borrow more than you can comfortably manage to repay. Student loan payments should be 10-15% or less of a student’s net monthly income after graduation.
What option will work best for me?
Finding the loan that best suits your needs is an individual decision that depends on your family’s circumstances and preferences. We recommend you research all options to determine the loan program that works best for you.
Questions to ask when comparing eligibility:
- Who is the borrower on the loan?
- Will I need a cosigner and under what circumstances can the cosigner be released?
- Am I eligible if I am not going to school at least half time?
- Can I borrow for past due balances?
- Do I need to be enrolled in a degree-seeking program in order to qualify?
Questions to ask when comparing the cost of student loans:
- What are the ranges of available interest rates?
- Is the lender offering fixed rates, variable rates, or both?
- Are there any loan fees? What types of interest rate discounts are available?
- What will the monthly payment be upon graduation?
Questions to ask when reconsidering repayment:
- Is there a grace period after graduation?
- How long is the repayment term?
- Who will service my loans?
- What repayment options are available?
- Are there deferment or forbearance options?
- Is loan forgiveness available and under what circumstances?
Important note: While the Federal PLUS Loan terms are the same for every borrower, private student loan terms will vary based on lender and your financial situation and credit. For this reason we recommend that you compare all loan options carefully.
How do I apply?
Students and families should research options early and apply no earlier than 90 days prior to the beginning of the term.
Federal Parent PLUS Loan - login to StudentLoans.gov and click Apply for a PLUS Loan under Parent Borrowers
Private (Alternative) Loans - we recommend visiting ELMSelect to begin a private lender search
Important note: Applying for a private student loan will not impact eligibility for a Federal PLUS Loan. Also, if you are comparing rates between private student loan lenders, be sure to do your comparison shopping within a 30-day window so that your credit score is not impacted by multiple inquiries.