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Student Financial Aid Overview

Only a minority of college and university students today do not have to acquire some sort of student financial aid in order to pay for educational expenses. Millions of students in the USA use different types of financial support to finance their tuition, books and numerous other education-related costs. In recent years educational loans have been growing as one of the main sources of financial support to college and university students. Other popular financial aid options include college scholarships and grants. On our website you will find all important information on available student financial aid options. Additionally, there are numerous useful tips on how to get the best financial assistance for your academic expenses at a college, university or private school.

Student Loans Summary Guide

Educational loans comprise a variety of loan options including Direct Student Loans, provided by the US federal government, such as: Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Consolidated Loans; and PLUS Loans and diverse Private Student Loans provided by different financial organizations and banks.

Direct Federal Loans

Stafford Loans

In order to meet the requirements for Federal Stafford Loan, student must be enrolled at college or university at least on half-time basis. Besides, to be eligible for this student loan option, student must attend an educational institution that participates in Federal Family Education Loan Program, and must be a U.S. citizen or national, a U.S. permanent resident or eligible non-resident. Federal Stafford Loans consist of Subsidized Loans for students in financial need and Unsubsidized Loans which are not based on financial need.

Perkins Loans

Federal Perkins Loans are provided by the Department of Education to help students in financial need enrolled in one of accredited U.S. colleges or universities to pay for their academic cost. The lender is college or university; the government provides finances to each participating postsecondary institution and the institution then distributes funds to students in high economic need.

Federal Consolidated Student Loans

This type of loan allows borrower to replace a number of federal loans like Perkins Loans, PLUS Loans or Stafford Loans or multiple private loans with just one. Students can borrow enough money in one loan to pay off other student loans.

Direct PLUS Loans

Direct PLUS Loans for are financial aid for parents of depending students provided by the department of Education with the aim to help parents in paying for their child’s educational expenses. In order to qualify parents must satisfy particular eligibility requirements.

Private Student Loans

Private Student Loans should be considered as a loan option if you cannot get other forms of financial aid. Private student loans can also complement your federal student loan. They are credit-based financial support and can help student to pay additional costs not covered by federal financial aid. Different from other education financial aid options, the private loan can cover up to the total cost of your education and, in general, you need to have a cosigner on your application or obtain a student loan without a cosigner. The largest US private loan lender corporation is Sallie Mae which provides student loans to undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Most private lenders provide certified education loans and is harder to find uncertified student loans as these loans do not have to be certified by the college in order to be approved and the check sent directly to the place of student borrower residence.

College Scholarships and Grants

The major benefits of college scholarships are that they don’t involve any repayment terms; furthermore, besides colleges and universities, scholarships are offered from various institutions, companies and employers. Additionally, student can realize a number of scholarships, while there is no limit to the scholarship amount that can be obtained.

Grants are type of financial aid available to college students, especially those in financial need. Student grants are different from both, student loans and scholarships because they are free reward money and primarily need-based. Student grants can be provided by the Federal government, colleges and universities, public and private organizations.

How to Apply for Federal Student Aid, Scholarships and Grants

Filing out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA can be considered as the most important step in the financial assistance application process, since this will make you qualified for the best federal student loans available, along with certain types of student grants.

FAFSA is the universal application for all types of federal student aid that applicant must complete and submit each year in order to become eligible for government financial aid. After that, your application will be reviewed and you’ll get a letter informing you on your financial aid eligibility.

It is strongly recommended to students to follow a specific order when applying for student financial aid:

  • Federal Aid > Scholarships/Grants > PLUS Loans > Private Loans > Other Student Loans > Loan Consolidation.

This is important to consider, since these sorts of student financial aid vary in the terms of cost and repayment benefits. As a general rule, private loans should be considered a s a last loan option after you have exhausted all other financial aid alternatives.