Find Student Loans
Use this quick guide to do it right!
Whether you’re planning ahead – or the tuition is due today – it’s never too late to do your research and find the best student loan to help you cover college costs.
Prioritize the order of the multiple loans you use
You should prioritize student loan types by cost and flexibility. Most students will use federal student loans (sometimes called “Stafford Loans” or “Direct Loans” as their first source of borrowing. Interest rates are (relatively) lower than other loan types, and repayment provisions are very flexible. Ask your financial aid office if you have room to borrow more through these federal programs. (Note: you’ll have to fill out the FAFSA form to be eligible).
If you still need to borrow, consider a private student loan. These are loans made by private lenders.
Compare loans before you commit to one
Unlike federal student loans, private loans come from multiple sources, and have multiple options for repayment length, repayment type (fixed, variable), deferment, and interest rates. You’ll need to shop around. Use our student loan comparison tool to compare your options.
Make sure to compare on the basis of quantitative factors (like, APR, Monthly Payment, Total Cost of Loan) as well as qualitative factors (like lender reputation, customer service, etc).
Minimize your borrowing
Remember, you’re going to have to pay these loans back someday (sooner than you might think), so: always borrow as little as you can.
A note on the PLUS and GradPLUS loan
Keep in mind that the federal PLUS loan for parents of undergraduates and the GradPLUS loan for graduate and professional students have some of the benefits of federal student loans (flexible repayment options), but carry fees and interest rates that can make them costlier than some private student loans.
A final word
Your college borrowing will be with you for a long time. Make sure to pick the right loans, shop around, and keep the amount you borrow to the bare minimum. Your middle-aged self will be grateful!
- Search for scholarships to minimize borrowing
- Find student loan refinancing options with our refinance comparison tool
- Find an existing student loan in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) database