Monday, 5 January 2009

What Varieties of Options are Out There in Student Loans?

By William Blake

Whether you are in your first 4 years of college or are attending graduate school you are paying several times more for your college education than your parents and grandparents paid. This increase makes it difficult for students. But there are programs out there that give much needed assistance.

Undergraduates typically rely on a complex mix of scholarships, grants and loans. Those loans are sometimes taken out by undergraduates alone, others by their parents alone, sometimes a mixture of the two as when the parent becomes a co-borrower or co-signer.

The most common programs for students remain the unsubsidized and subsidized Stafford Loans. Subsidized loans are the most desirable, since the government pays the interest while the student is in school. But they are need-based. Unsubsidized loans are not need-based, making them available to a much wider group of students.

Here are some websites you can visit to see what you might qualify for: and

Graduates, on the other hand, often have fewer options for scholarships and grants just at the time when tuition costs jump. But teaching and/or research assistantships usually more than make up the shortfall. They, in effect, have very low-paying (and very long hour) jobs while attending courses and doing research.

In recent times the PLUS loan program has been extended to graduate students. In the past this program was restricted to parents of undergraduate students. Now it has been expanded to include graduate students and rather than making the loan to parents the money is loaned directly to the student.

PLUS loans have several advantages.

First, they're available. Since they're based on credit quality, not need-based, most borrowers can qualify. Relatively few grad students have had time to get into the credit binds that working adults often fall into. As a result, though their history may be sparse, they usually have few bad marks on their credit report. That makes the decision easier for college financial aid officials, who determine eligibility.

About the Author:
Before you consider consolidation as a way to get out of debt, you need to consider the debt consolidation loan consequences. It isn't always the best solution to consolidate your debt. Find out why on the Inside Debt Consolidation website


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