We get a boatload of questions daily in our Financial Aid forums concerning private student loans. While such a loan can help you close the gap between your federal loan allowance and your total cost of education, there may be some concerns. Here are a sampling of questions found in our forums and some ways to answer them.
1. “My parents don’t want ANOTHER loan hanging over their heads.” – As you may have heard, the U.S. economy hasn’t exactly been great last couple of years. Virtually no outside lender will approve you for a private student loan without a cosigner. But Mom and Dad, already burdened by the cost of education, might feel queasy at the thought of borrowing even more and facing a potentially damaging interest rate. One way to solve this problem is to take out a Parent PLUS loan, which has a fixed interest rate of 8.5% and the payments can be deferred until after graduation.
2. “My parents have lousy credit.” – Again, you will almost definitely need a co-signer for a private student loan these days. One trick is to ask your parents to apply for the Parent PLUS loan. If they have bad credit, they will get denied. You, however, can become eligible for up to $6,000 more per year with an unsubsidized Stafford loan. You may also seek out another trusted adult as your guardian. (Read this checklist for finding a private student loan co-signer.)
3. “I don’t know which lender to trust.” - Sad to say, there are a LOT of shady lenders out there who would love nothing more than to sucker you into a bad loan. Always (repeat: ALWAYS) shop around and perform your due diligence before providing personal information to a lender. One great place to start is right here, with the Private Student Loan comparison tool.
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