Student Loans 101

Applying For Student Loans

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Applying for Student Loans

In most cases it is usually better to exhaust federal financial aid programs, grants and scholarships before you consider a private education loan.   Some Private Loans do have more favorable interest rates, meaning they cost you less, than Federal Student Loans, but Private Loans may have less favorable repayment options and programs.  You have to carefully consider what is important to you and then do your homework and fully research all of your options before you decide how to finance your education.

There are limits to how much you can borrow under these programs so be sure to check out the Helpful Links below for additional information.

FAFSA for Federal Loans

To apply for federal student aid, including student loans, you must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

By completing and submitting a FAFSA, you will automatically be considered for federal student aid. In addition, your state and college may use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for non-federal aid.

Completing the FAFSA is completely free and is an easy process. We recommend that you submit your FAFSA online using FAFSA on the Web, as your application can be processed within 3-5 days. You may also submit a paper FAFSA, which will be processed within 7-10 days.

For help with filling out the FAFSA, you can go to or check with the financial aid office at your college or institution.

Your eligibility for all of the various types of federal government financial aid services is determined by the information you submit on your FAFSA.

Once you submit the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which will give you an opportunity to correct any previously reported “incorrect information” before the form is sent from the Department of Education to your school.

Filling out the FAFSA application does not necessarily have to be completed before submitting federal financial aid forms, but it is required before any student loans can be awarded to you by your school.


Your college will send you an Award letter notifying you of the amount of financial aid you qualify for, including federal student loans, grants and scholarships. Your Award Letter will not include Private Loans.  It is important to note that you may not be eligible for some types of federal loans based on your need and grade level. Additionally, some schools do not automatically award Direct PLUS Graduate or Direct PLUS Parent loans as part of their normal process. You will need to contact the financial aid office if you have unmet need and feel like you need additional student loan funding.

Private Loans

You should check with your college to see if they have a Private Loan Lender list. The list represents lenders who submitted specified information to the school regarding their loans. If your school does not have a Private Loan Lender list, or you are not happy with the selections provided by your school’s Private Loan Lender list, there are a number of different ways to find Private Loan lenders through an internet search that compile lists of various Private Loan Lenders and help provide helpful comparisons for you.    An example of one such site is Private Student Loan Guru's website.

Be sure to research each Private Loan carefully. Items to consider are:

  • Terms on co-signed versus non-co-signed loans
  • Repayment Period (How long you have to repay the loan.)
  • Discounts for auto-debit and on-time payments
  • Rewards for graduation
  • Credit Requirements
  • Payment Options while you are in school
  • Grace Period once you leave school
  • Options for dealing with financial difficulties associated with unemployment or bankruptcy
  • Options for loan discharge based on death or disability

You must apply directly with the bank, credit union, lender or their servicer. Most lenders offer online application processes.

Helpful Links:

Continue to learn about the Student Loan Life Cycle of your student loans.

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