How To Get A Student Loan For College Using These Top Strategies

young black student trying to figure out how to get a student loan for college with tuition debt

How To Get A Student Loan For College

Trying to figure out how to get a student loan for college?student wearing a backpack

Navigating the world of loans and personal finance when you’ve got college on the horizon can be understandably intimidating.

It can be easy to jump on the first loan offer you see and miss out on the finer print. A lot of people end up paying off their student college loan when they are well into their careers, and a lot of this has to do with not getting the best student loans out the gate.

Read on to learn about the top three tips you should follow on how to get a student loan for college, no matter what university you’re attending.

1. Do Your Research

There are so many loan options for college students out there. Before you plunge into the world of lending, it’s absolutely crucial to get some solid knowledge about all the options available to you.

That means starting out by learning about interest rates, grace periods, and terms of repayment.


Watch – Federal Student Loans


Your loan, unfortunately, isn’t free. In fact, you’ll be charged an interest rate depending upon the length and amount of the loan. Also, you’ll have to pay accumulated interest in addition to the loan amount.

Ideally, you’ll want to find a college student loan with the lowest possible interest rate, so that you’ll spend less money in the long run. This should be at the top of your list when you are researching loan options.

When it comes to repayment terms, every loan will be different. Most federal loans permit a student to pay off the loan once they graduate after a certain grace period–typically six to nine months after graduation from college.

At the end of the day, check out low-interest college loans with long grace periods and flexible repayment plans. In this case, you’ll want to check out the following federal subsidized loans.

Federal Perkins Loan

This subsidized loan enables students to pay off the loan once they graduate. The government pays the interest while you are in school. Your interest rate remains fixed at five percent.

There is a limit on how much you can take out for a Perkins loan, depending on need.students studying

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan

This is one of the best student loans out there. It is given based on the financial needs of the applicant, and has one of the lowest fixed interest rates out there: 4.29 percent.

There is also a limit here for how much a student can take out per year.

Unsubsidized Loans

You can take out federal loans that are not subsidized, but these often mean higher interest rates (upwards of seven percent), shorter grace periods, and interest paid during the time at school.

However, the good thing about unsubsidized loans is the fact that you can take out a loan for the entire price tag of a college education. They are not need-based.

Private Loan Options

Last but not least, there are a host of private or state loan options available to college students. Like unsubsidized federal loans, these are also not need-based and tend to have higher interest rates.

In general, we don’t recommend taking out a personal loan to pay for college, as the interest rates can be prohibitive.

2. Choose a Smart Repayment Plan

It can be very tempting to take out a loan, get the cash, and pay your tuition–without thinking about repayment. That’s way down the road; I don’t have to worry about it now.

Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you think in terms of repayment. Envision where you might be once you graduate. Are you going to be in a position to make regular payments plus interest then?student calculating loan payment

Keep in mind that many fresh graduates don’t just walk into a job post-graduation. In this case, it’s important to explore grace periods that your loan’s terms offer and minimum monthly repayment plans.

It can be helpful to bring in a student college loan calculator here to calculate your average monthly repayment cost and how long it will take you to pay back the loan.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Advice

At the end of the day, getting professional advice when deciding how to get a student loan for college never hurts.

Many loan counselors provide services through non-profit organizations intent on helping students navigate debt worry-free. Depending upon your needs, you’ll be able to have a conversation or series of conversations that can put you on the path toward understanding your best options.

Loan counselors will also be able to walk you through any complicated aspects of the loan process, and offer endless resources about taking out the best student college loan.

You’ll also be able to call any representative from the loan department you choose to talk about specifics and repayment plans. You may even be able to talk to your university to get a sense of best recommendations.

Don’t be shy: bring this up with your parents or close friends. Ask for their advice about repayment options, interest rates, and loans, and what they would recommend.

How to Get an Adequate Student College Loan

Getting the best possible student college loan doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. College is hard enough!

When you are gathering funds for getting through college, it’s important to really do your research. Understand all of the options available to you, including the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized student college loans. Make sure when you are assessing options that you are clear on interest rates and repayment terms.

We also recommend talking to a loan counselor or other professional if you want additional assistance in navigating student debt.

At Credit Squared, we aim to help anyone and everyone understand the complex world of personal finance. We’ve got you covered when it comes to learning about taking out loans of any kind and boosting your credit knowledge.

Want to share your personal experience about how to get a student loan for college? Leave a comment below!

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8 Comments

  1. It’s coming to the time for me when I have to start looking at what university I want to go to and I realized I knew absolutely nothing about the process of getting a student loan or what type of student loans there are. 

    After reading this article I feel much more comfortable in this process. 

    Are there any differences between getting a student loan in the US compared to the UK that you know of?

    • Chris – Thanks for leaving a comment about the article. Looks to me like you are headed in the right direction now that you are looking for a college loan.

      In the US there are both subsidized and unsubsidized student loan programs as well as many federal and private loan funding sources.

      I’m not sure about the UK, but I’m sure that if you do a little research you should be able to find student loan funding program that works for you.  Here is a link to a site to help you get started with your research.

      Student Loans UK

      Best of luck,

      Patrick

      Creditsquared.com

  2. Thanks Patrick. 

    A very thought provoking article.

    I never realized there were so many options and I have followed up your figures by doing some spread sheets of my costs over the next 4 years of study.

    Wow! The difference in effect of the interest rates makes an enormous difference.

    Is it possible to combine 2 different types of loan? e.g. a Federal Direct and an unsubsidized loan? 

    Are there age restrictions on any of the loan types?

    • Thanks for your comments and questions.

      It is staggering the cost of a four year college education. Interest rates on private or unsubsidized loans can make the cost of a college degree even less affordable.

      Subsidized student loans are reserved for those students that can demonstrate financial hardship, so if you don’t qualify then a Federal Direct unsubsidized loan is your only option. Or you can use private loan options, but they can be more expensive.

      There is no age limit. Just about everyone is eligible for some type if federal student aid.

      Here is a link to an excellent source that can help you understand your options for student financial aid.

      Estimate Eligibility for Student Financial Aid

      Best of luck,

      Patrick

      Creditsquared.com

  3. A lot of students are going to love this article. I have a few acquaintances who might find this article useful and will share this post with them. 

    Nowadays, college costs are really high.  It seems like you are getting into insurmountable debt before you can even start to work to make a living. 

    Thanks for sharing the many options available on how to get a student loan for college. 

    This article has helped me to understand that I should take my time when deciding which student loan to go for.

    • Hey thanks for your comments about the post.

      It’s a great feeling to know that my content is helping others, especially students struggling with financing their college education.

      It’s is quite true that college costs are through the roof these days.  That is why students should thoroughly educate themselves about how to get a student loan for college.

      When searching for the best student loan options make sure you understand the Federal Perkins loan program.  

      Perkins loans come two ways, subsidized (need based) and unsubsidized (not need based) and knowing the difference can save you a lot of money over the life of the student loan.

      To learn more about where to apply for a student loan you can read more here.

      Where to Apply for a Student Loan and Not Get Screwed

      All the best,

      Patrick

      Creditsquared.com

  4. Thank you for your post. Very valuable information.

    I have a cousin that is about to start applying for loans and she can really use this guidance. I have emailed her a link to this post and suggested she read some of the other content you have related to student loans.

    When I attended school I had no trouble getting loans, as the college I went to essentially helped me with the entire process.  However, I did not really shop around and look for a lower interest rate. I guess it’s because my university made it so easy to apply and get a student loan for college.

    I transferred and consolidated my student loan debt over the years to secure a much better interest rate and lower my monthly payments. 

    If I knew what I know now, I could have saved thousands of dollars!

    • Ernest,

      There’s lots of great information here for students looking to fund their college educations.  Thanks for sending your cousin the link, I am sure she will find the information very helpful.  

      If she has any questions, I would be more than happy to help out. Just tell her to click on the contact us button at the top of our home page.  She can leave a question and I will get back with her.

      It’s nice to hear that you were able to consolidate your college loans and lower your payments.  I did the same thing after I graduated and it saved me a bunch of money.

      Share this article I wrote with your cousin.  It will help prepare her to consolidate her student loans after she graduates.

      Consolidate Student Loan Debt

      Thanks,

      Patrick

      Creditsquared.com

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