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Applying for Student Loans

After using your savings, scholarships, grants, and work-study, you may still need additional money for college. That’s when you should consider a student loan. There are two types: federal and private.

Applying for federal student loans

To apply for a federal student loan, you must first complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Based on the results of your FAFSA, your college or career school will send you a financial aid award letter, which may include the federal student loan options available to you. Your school will tell you how to accept all or part of the student loan.

Applying for private student loans

After you've explored scholarships, grants, work-study, and federal loans, if you still have a funding gap, consider a private student loan from a bank or private lender. Spend some time comparing rates and terms to find the best fit for your needs. Your school’s financial aid office can help you get started.

Tips for choosing a private student loan:

Compare rates and terms. Loans differ, so read all of the materials and disclosures. Make sure you understand the terms, interest rates, fees, and repayment options on each of the loans you are considering.

Consider a cosigner. Loans (and their interest rates) are based on your creditworthiness and your ability to pay. Since most high school graduates have not yet had a chance to build a credit history, applying with an established cosigner, like a parent or other credit-worthy individual, may help get you approved — and get a lower interest rate.

Ask for advice. Ask your parent or guardian, your guidance counselor, or anyone else you trust to learn more about the process of taking out loans to pay for college.

College Planning CalculatorSM

Many students and their families use an “all of the above” approach to paying for college. Build your overall plan with the College Planning CalculatorSM, a free tool that helps calculate the expected cost of college and how you will successfully pay for it with savings, income, scholarships, grants, and loans.

Start Your Plan

Next steps

Learn more about the difference between federal and private student loans

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