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Student Loans

Loans are considered self-help financial aid because they must be repaid. While you don't need to be intimidated by student loans, you do need to understand how they work and be wise when accepting a loan. There are five types of federal loans (listed below). You will not qualify for all federal loans.

  • Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans
  • Parent Loan for Undergraduate Student (PLUS)
  • Graduate PLUS Loan
  • Health Professions Loans

    Health profession loans include several low-interest loans provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for students enrolled in medical and nursing programs. These include:

    • Health Professions Student Loans
    • Nursing Student Loans
    • Primary Care Loans

    If you are pursuing a health care degree, check with the financial aid office at your college or go to their website to find out if they offer these loans and to understand the application process. Even if you are an independent student, you may have to provide financial information about your parents if you borrow using a health professions loan.

Important things to remember about loans:
  • You must complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine which federal loans you are eligible to receive;

  • You are eligible for federal student loans as long as you are enrolled in college at least half-time each semester;

  • Income Based Repayment (IBR) plans for the major types of federal loans are made to qualifying students. Under IBR, your required monthly payment is capped at an amount that is intended to be affordable based on your income and family size. Get full information at Federal Student AidNew window icon;

  • You are never required to accept a loan (or the entire amount of a loan) that is offered to you as part of your financial aid award;

  • You must sign a "Promissory Note" - a legal document that is your promise to repay each loan you accept;

  • You must complete an entrance counseling session for federal loans before you receive any loan funds. Your college will let you know how you do this;

  • Fees may be taken out before the loan funds are disbursed to you;

  • Federal student loan payments are deferred until you graduate or leave school;

  • Student loans can help you establish a positive credit report (which is necessary to purchase a home or a car) as long as you pay what you owe in a timely manner.

The next step is to do your own research to determine the best type of loan for your situation. There are many different education loans available through federal and private sources. When deciding which loan options are best for you, keep in mind that federal loans are usually less expensive, have more deferment and forbearance options available to postpone payments and have loan forgiveness opportunities not available through private loan programs. Private loans are best used as a last resort to help finance any gap that is remaining after family resources, scholarships, grants, institutional aid, student employment and federal loans have been exhausted.

You'll also want to think about which lender can provide these loans at the best price. Not all student loans are the same. Having the right lender may save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. To understand more about your options as a student, read about the types of loans availableNew window icon.

No matter which loan(s) you decide to accept, be a wise borrower and only borrow what you need to pay for your educational expenses each year. The SLOPE Calculator can help you determine this amount.