Student Loans 101

Student Loans

Student Loans 101

This tutorial explains the various loan options and how to select a lender.

No one wants to borrow their way through the college years. But the reality is that most families can't cover the full expense from cash flow, savings and financial aid. Even when a college meets 100% of your demonstrated financial need, a portion of the aid package probably will be loans rather than grants.

Low-rate loans to help foot the bills are plentiful, and most families have no difficulty finding educational loans to fill the gap, or even qualifying for them. Although you probably won't apply for loans until after your child graduates from high school, you should give them some thought as you're making the final choice of a school, in the spring of your child's senior year.

This planning center will help you understand the terms of the various student loans and select a lender.

When You're Ready to Apply
Understand the basics of student loans.


Stafford Student Loans
Students can tap these federal loans, which offer low rates and flexible repayment terms.

How to Choose a Stafford-Loan Lender
Find a lender who offers lower fees to save money down the road.

Perkins Loans
Students with high financial need can apply for these loans, with a fixed interest rate.

PLUS Loans
These loans are made to parents based on creditworthiness, not need.


Private Loans
Tap additional funds if you need to supplement federal loans.

When You're Ready to Apply