01.27.11 | Most popular student loans for college

Not everyone is aware of all the loan options available to pay for college. Here are just a few to consider:

1) Federal Stafford Loans – These are federally guaranteed student loans. You can apply for subsidized Stafford loans and the government will pay the interest for you while you are enrolled. This is a great option for students and the most popular loan program available.

2) Parent PLUS Loans – The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students allows parents to borrow through the federal loan program to pay for their child’s education. The loan is in the parent’s name.

3) Private Student Loans – Private college loans are not sponsored by the government but offer an alternative sources of funds for those that may not qualify for federal aid or who need additional funds. Private school loans are often in the students name with the parent acting as a cosigner.

4) Perkins Loan – Perkins loans are another federal loan for low income students based on eligibility. These loan funds are limited so apply early.

5) Credit Cards – Believe it or not, approximately 30% of students/parents put a portion of the tuition bill on their credit card. While we don’t recommend this option, it is a reality. Once you graduate, consider consolidating your student loans to lower your monthly payment. The downside is you will pay more interest over the life of the loan by extending your repayment period. For additional resources, visit: www.studentloans.com, www.collegeloansolutions.com and www.gradloans.com.

02.12.10 | FAFSA and You

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid by Student Loan Network Staff

To open, I’d like to ask a simple question: Have you filed your FAFSA yet? If no, you should know that the FAFSA is one of the most valuable financial aid tools in a student’s arsenal (besides scholarships and grants, which are the best) because it shows the government and your school that you need money for college.

In the eyes of your future school, neglecting to file a FAFSA is equivalent to leaving a gigantic tip on on a small meal – you only do it because you don’t care, or money is no object. Depending on your level of need, there is potential to get a significant portion of your cost of attendance financed at attractive interest rates, and/or qualify for a Pell Grant, which you do not need to pay back. Also, the FAFSA applies to both undergraduate AND graduate students.

So why the urgency? “I read on the Government website that my FAFSA isn’t actually due until June 30, right?” — Technically yes, but the real answer is no. In the case of colleges and universities, the financial aid department of your school will actually set a separate financial aid deadline in order to give themselves enough time to put together everyone’s aid packages.

The bottom line: The longer you wait to file your FAFSA, the less chance you have of receiving an excellent financial aid package from your school. Also, be on the lookout for a separate school-only financial aid form – sometimes they require more than just the FAFSA to evaluate your need; you can contact your financial aid office to ask if there are more forms involved.

One last thing! Don’t forget to send your FAFSA to all the schools you applied to. When you are completing the application, there will be an option toward the end to add the receiving schools by school code… just make sure you get them all in there and you will be A-OK paperwork-wise when your school begins to review financial need.

ScholarshipPoints Redemption Code: FAFSA2K10

02.11.10 | Demystifying Federal Student Loans

Posted in Financial Aid, Stafford Loan, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

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If you’re like me, you probably were at least somewhat confused the first time you looked at your financial award letter. “Stafford Loans”, “Perkins Loans”, “PLUS Loans”, what does it all mean?! Well friend, I’m glad you asked!

Each type of loan has a special purpose, so I’d like to break it all down for you and we’ll start with with the most common one, the Stafford loan.

Stafford Loans

To get started with these puppies, there are two different kinds of Stafford loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. The difference between the two is all about the interest; subsidized loans have a lower fixed interest rate of 4.5% for the 2010-11 academic year (meaning you pay less money over the course of the loan) and actually don’t start accruing interest until your six month grace period after graduation is over.

Unsubsidized Stafford loans begin to build interest (currently at 6.8% fixed) immediately after disbursement, which means that they snowball like private student loans. The nice thing about Stafford loans though is if you can afford to, you have the option of paying off the interest as it accrues while you’re still in school without any penalties. The end result is you pay a lot less interest over the life of the loan, and save yourself a pile of money. If you can’t afford to pay the interest while you’re in school though, don’t worry too much… you’re still getting a bargain on the interest rate compared to most private student loans out in the market.

Perkins Loans

A Perkins loan is a special type of low-interest product (5% fixed, as of 2010) intended for students with exceptional financial need. Although your need for the loan is determined based on your FAFSA, your school actually is the entity that decides whether to give you the money or not. Every year, the Federal Government grants participating schools with a certain amount of funding meant for Perkins loans, and each school can choose to lend only those funds, or add some of their own to the pool for financial assistance to their students.

If you ever write an appeal notice to your financial aid department at school, this, along with any school-sponsored scholarships or grants, is likely what they would consider you for to increase your award. One thing to consider that is a little odd for this particular type of loan is that since the school is your lender, you actually will receive the repayment bill from them instead of the government. Due to this, there can be different billing cycles… for instance, it isn’t unheard of to only be billed for this type of loan once every four months instead of monthly.

PLUS Loans

The PLUS loan is the last type of lending that the government offers to students and families, and is meant to bridge the gap between your Stafford, Perkins awards, and your total cost of attendance. Unlike the other two, the PLUS loan requires a credit check, much like a private student loan. There is a quirk though, in that if the parent does not pass the credit check, a friend or relative can actually co-sign on the loan. The APR of this loan changes every July, but will never exceed 9.0%.

As a side note, all the loans above are available to both undergraduate AND graduate students. As always, the best types of financial aid you can get are scholarships and grants (since you don’t have to pay them back!), and there are tons of resources available to find them like StudentScholarshipSearch and ScholarshipPoints. However, the subsidized Stafford loan is definitely the best option you can get as far as student loans go, and will cost the least over the course of your repayment.

*Credit Images to “Cmiper” on Flickr

ScholarshipPoints Code: MYSTERYGONE

04.01.09 | Education Loan Deduction, $2500

Posted in Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

The maximum tax deduction for interest paid on student loans each year is $2,500.

This benefit applies to all loans used to pay for postsecondary education school expenses. If you’re unsure how much interest you’ve paid on your loans you can contact your lender for further details, although they generally send out a 1098 tax form highlighting those details for you.

In order to qualify for this benefit your adjusted gross income must be less than $70,000 ($145,000 if filing jointly).

Five most recent Stafford loan help blog posts:

09.23.08 | 2009-10 FAFSA Expected To Be Finalized In Late November

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

The Department of Education has reported that it expects the 2009-10 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be finalized in mid to late November. This is later than usual due to the many necessary changes to the FAFSA as a result of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA).

What is the FAFSA? The FAFSA Financial Aid Application is the most important financial aid form you can complete. But many people either avoid it or make costly mistakes when filling it out. Our free, comprehensive FAFSA help guide, Frequently Asked Questions, and FAFSA secrets will help you maximize your financial aid and qualify for student loans.

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07.29.08 | Alternative to MEFA, Student Loan Network offers Federal and Private Loans in Massachusetts

Posted in Financial Aid, Private Student Loans, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

With the news that MEFA (Massachusetts Education Finance Authority) is not able to make loans this year, (see: http://tinyurl.com/5soc5g)  Massachusetts residents will be looking for funding options.  We are happy to reassure our customers in Massachusetts that the Student Loan Network has a full suite of federal and private student loan products for funding this coming semester.  In addition, we offer a variety of credit tools, student loan resources and educational guides to help you through the financial aid maze.  For a list of these resources, visit: http://www.studentloannetwork.com/resources/

Financial Aid Professionals looking for options for their students, please visit:


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06.13.08 | FAFSA comments in real time via Twitter

Posted in FAFSA by Student Loan Network Staff

I’m a big fan of the life-blogging service Twitter, and thought I’d share some of the more recent comments about the FAFSA here, along with “director’s commentary” of sorts.

JanetIs: Glad the FAFSA isn’t due until the 30th.

@Janetis: Actually, the sooner you can file it, the better. There’s a limited amount of “free money” available each year, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s allocated on a first come, first served basis.

andyduss: FAFSA can suck it!

dUbiAsIti: uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh, i hate filling out the FAFSA! even when the gov’t has prefilled my answers and it’s easy as pie, i still HATE IT…

donkeypoof: importing music/FAFSA/nebraska driver’slicense?!

unsympathetic: finally filling out my FAFSA

bvaughn: Just finished my FAFSA for next semester… let’s see if the gov’t will give me any money to go to school!

@bvaughn: Don’t just wait on the government. Go find some money yourself – check out our free scholarship search book!

brandanger: wednesday got up cameto class had class til 11:35 work on FAFSA work on homework go out to eat with a friend

twistedmentat: Did my FAFSA. Sorry, Financial Institution, there ain’t no WAY yer squeezin’ eight large outta me.

mmemaledicta: Ok, so here’s what pisses me off about the FAFSA: They ask you for the totals of all accounts. What if rent hasn’t cleared? BS.

@mmemaledicta: They do ask you for the totals of all accounts, but that’s as of the day you file. If you know your rent will clear in a day or two, you can hold off filing the FAFSA until your rent has cleared and your checking account is back to normal.

craftyminx: FAFSA… Knew i forgot something

jeffmckown: Filling out the FAFSA sucks.

hyakurin: Watching CNN. Bored. Worried about FAFSA ******* me on my loans.

@hyakurin: There are a couple of loans, such as the PLUS loan, and private student loans, which do not require the FAFSA at all. If your award letter and student aid report come back with meager results, look into these loans, too.

merrickmonroe: @valor26: maybe not the school (yet), but FAFSA hq should watch out!

If you’ve got questions about the FAFSA, please ask! We’re here to help.

The FAFSA blog is sponsored in part by:

Five most recent FAFSA form help blog posts:

06.03.08 | Interest rate changes on federal student loans

Posted in FAFSA, PLUS Loans, Stafford Loan by Student Loan Network Staff

As of July 1, 2008, interest rates will be changing on federal student loans such as the Stafford loan. Here’s a quick rundown of the details:

For new Stafford loans:

  • Subsidized: 6.0%
  • Unsubsidized: 6.8%

For Stafford loans older than July 1, 2006:

  • In grace period: 3.61%
  • In repayment: 4.21%

For PLUS loans older than July 1, 2006:

  • All older PLUS loans: 5.01%

If you’re just filing your FAFSA now, be aware that loan limits have increased as well; you’ll receive additional details from your school’s financial aid office in your award letter and financial aid package.

The FAFSA blog is sponsored in part by:

Five most recent FAFSA form help blog posts: