Student Loans

A student loan can help you get a handle on education costs

For millions of Americans enrolled in higher education programs, student loans come with the territory. If you need financial help to meet the cost of your schooling and you can't find enough scholarships, grants and bursaries, you have three options: government student loans, direct student loans and private student loans.

Types of Student Loans

Stafford loans are federal student loans made available through credit unions and banks. They are backed by the U.S. government and are either subsidized or unsubsidized. They are the most common college student loans awarded in the United States and feature affordable interest rates.

Perkins loans are direct student loans bestowed to students in need by the institution they're attending. You both borrow the money from and pay it back to the school itself. To get one of these college student loans, you have to carry a course load that is at least half-time. Otherwise, they are very similar to Stafford loans.

Private student loans are offered by banks or financial institutions that deal specifically with students in need. For example, there are private student loan companies that exclusively service international students coming to the U.S., since these students don't qualify for Stafford or Perkins loans.

While you should use your savings, loans from family members and scholarships to fund as much of your education as possible, student loans are there to help you make ends meet. Education is expensive, but worth the investment.

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