Getting ready to apply to college this year? This is what you need to know about student loans.
Is your child getting ready to apply to college this year? Or maybe you are a college student, and are still confused about the student loan process.
Below are some quick tips from New York City’s Consumer Affairs to keep in mind when applying for student loans:
Completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) helps determine which federal assistance programs you qualify for. Some programs, such as grants, give money toward college that you do not need to repay. Federally guaranteed loans are low interest rate loans that you must repay. Always consider federal assistance programs before private lenders.
The FAFSA typically opens Oct. 1 for the following academic year. It’s a good idea to complete the FAFSA as early as possible so you can get all of the financial aid you qualify for. CLICK HERE for more information on deadlines.
If you need to borrow from private lenders, shop around and compare loan features and agreements to see which one best meets your needs.
Unlike federal student loans, you can apply for private student loans at any time - but don’t wait until the last minute - or you might miss a tuition payment if the funds are not disbursed in time.
CHECK AMOUNT AND BUDGET
Check the loan amount to see if it’s right for you. Many times, lenders will offer you a loan that is much more than you need to pay for your education. Create a budget to determine how much of a loan you need and how much you can repay after graduation. Borrowing too much means paying more in interest in the long term.
Getting a cosigner for a private loan should be a last resort. If you fully explored your federal loan options and cannot qualify for an affordable loan on your own, you may consider finding a cosigner. BE AWARE: Your cosigner is responsible for paying the debt if you fail to pay the loan. Both of your credit histories will be impacted.
Avoid “free money” from organizations you don’t know. Many scam artists prey on students and parents with little or no credit with offers of loan money without a credit check.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has tools and resources to help you make informed financial decisions about paying for college.
Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation.
Connecticut - Student loan repayment guide
New Jersey - Student loan information
New York State - Types of financial aid