How to Apply for a Private Student Loan

>> Sunday, February 6, 2011

Costs of higher education have greatly increased in recent years, and a college degree is now more important than ever as a path to financial stability. Since the majority of prospective students cannot afford to pay for college out-of-pocket, they are turning towards various forms of student aid to cover the expenses. When formulating a plan of paying for college, it is important to investigate all possible avenues for financial aid. While scholarships and grants can greatly help with the bulk of tuition and fees, college applicants should not rule out different types of private loans as well.

The process of obtaining a school loan from a private agency is somewhat different than applying for federal student aid, and eligibility is based on a few additional factors. There are also differences in interest rates and the total amount that can be borrowed. Eligibility is based primarily on an applicant's credit history. Most banks and other lending agencies offering private student loans strongly encourage borrowers to have a co-signer if at all possible.
The first recommended step towards paying for college with private loans is to evaluate current financial circumstances and educational goals to get a realistic picture of future ability to repay the money. Prospective borrowers should consider the type of degree field they are entering and the health of the job market for this type of field. While many loans include payment deferment and grace periods after graduation, it is important to be able to relatively easily secure a position with a paycheck that will allow for budgeting payments on a school loan.
College-bound students may be eligible to apply for a private loan on their own, provided they meet certain criteria. Before filling out any private loan applications, gather any available documentation of income. This can include pay stubs or tax returns. It is also a good idea to request a copy of a current credit report. In addition, school loan applications usually require documented proof of college acceptance and/or enrollment.
Before deciding on a specific private loan, compare several different options from different lenders and carefully read through their terms and conditions. All of this information should be easily accessible through lenders' websites. When filling out a school loan application, most lending institutions now offer the options to do so either online or in person.
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How to Manage a Student Loan

Earning a college degree is required for most jobs that pay well in today's society. Using a student loan to go to college is often the only way students can afford to further their education. While scholarships and government grants and loans are available, they usually don't cover everything. Tuition aside, there are books, room and board, student activities, food and basic living expenses to cover. Paying for college can be a challenge. That's where the private student loan comes in. Once a student loan has been approved, it is important to manage it correctly. Here's how.


Terms

There are different types of terms available. The most common are to either pay back the money after graduating from school or to start making small payments while the student is still in school and paying it off after graduation. The in-school payments cause the loan to be paid back faster, which costs less in the long run. Coming up with the money for regular payments while taking classes is difficult for some students. It is a matter of personal preference as to which type of terms are best, as each person's financial situation is different.
Payments
Regardless of the terms, the student has a set amount of time back the school loan. The payment schedule is determined at the time of approval by the lender and acceptance of terms by the applicant. Monthly payments should be made on time and in full. Missing payments will cause additional fees and penalties to be tacked on each time there is a problem.
Changes
Throughout a student's college experience, they tend to move to different dorm rooms, apartments or rental houses. For most students just out of high school, this is their parents' address. The permanent address is the most practical one to use for the student loan. For those without a permanent address, it is important to notify the lender each time their physical mailing address changes.
Problems
Sometimes it is difficult for students or recent graduates to make the loan payments. Employment may be harder to find or other expenses may crop up along the way which make it harder to manage a student loan. When a payment is going to be late, it is best to notify the lender as soon as possible. If this is a recurring problem, the payments can probably be adjusted as long as the person keeps in touch with the lender. This will cost more in the long run, but ignoring the problem will only create a snowball effect with late payment fees and penalties, making the problem worse.
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