You’ve worked hard, studied, and now you get the chance to reap the benefits: attending your dream college or university. However, the cost of an education can be steep depending on where you plan on attending. That’s where student loans can come in handy to make sure you can achieve your educational goal. As you may have heard or read, navigating the student loan landscape from admission to graduation can be tricky. Here are some things to keep in mind before signing on the dotted line.
Take the time to review your options.
Just like when you began looking for colleges, consider the assistance of a college counselor who has some understanding of the student loan process. As you enter the admission process, make sure that you are getting an accurate depiction of your costs per semester based on your course load, major, and academic plan. Any school’s admissions department should provide resources that offer loans, as well as applications for grants and scholarships that may cover some of the debts coming forward, keeping you on the right track.
When taking on the loan application process, websites like TuitionHero can help you balance out your expenses to make sure that you are not being taken on a ride. Students can find themselves having to meet certain prerequisites that they cannot meet for loans without a cosigner. It’s also important to understand that loans through private financial outlets may require immediate payment, as opposed to other loans that allow a grievance period of a certain number of months after graduation.
Don’t rule out federal loans.
While you may feel comfortable relying on a bank or financial outlet to achieve success in academics, federal loans are a viable option to achieve educational goals. Every year you attend a school, you should fill out the FAFSA form, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. This can help you identify federal grants, loans, and work-study funds to pay for college. These financial aid packages provide padding for higher education, seeking to make sure that your academic needs are not being waned by an outstanding balance.
Federal student loans do come with a fixed interest rate, so you are not dealing with fluctuations that end up costing you more in the long run. Federal loans also don’t require a credit check or cosigner and provide a grievance period so that you are not immediately paying back a loan after you get your diploma. Federal student loans offer a more flexible repayment plan or option than some traditional borrowing options.
Don’t take on debt more than your first year’s salary.
An admissions advisor should provide any prospective student with a list of the financial assistance outlets that may be available to help their educational dreams come true. However, don’t get in over your head. Experts suggest that you evaluate repayment plans to make sure you are not breaking the bank upon graduation to not go into default. If you’re a current student, look into what the expected annual salary is for your first year in the line of work you are pursuing. Consider other expenses that may come with taking that job, such as moving and rent.
Based on your current situation and future goals, consider where you can also save. In the United States, you can now remain under your parent’s private health insurance coverage until the age of 26. If you can pursue your dream job but still live at home, it may be worth it to build your savings. Remember, your academic goals matter. Be sure to find the education programs that you want to pursue, and be sure to carefully look into the student borrowing options that are right for you.