Whether it’s completing the FAFSA to get federal student loans or submitting an application to a bank for a private student loan, applying for student loans can seem like a complicated process. There are a lot of steps and information needed from students and their families, so this guide can help you prepare for and navigate through any student loan application process.
Repayment options range from immediate full repayment (principal and interest payments immediately after the loan is fully disbursed), interest only (interest-only payments while you are in school, and start making principal and interest payments after you leave school), full deferral while in school, flat payment while in-school, graduated repayment (payments increase over time). COA-Aid (annual limit)

You can also work for the Peace Corps to get a deferment of Stafford, Perkins, or Consolidation loans. If you work for Americorps for a year, you’ll receive $4,725 for your loans. Volunteering with Volunteers in Service to America for 1,700 hours will give you $4,725 for your loans, too. Thinking of joining the military? You can see the student loan benefit eligibility here.
Ascent student loans is not as well known as some other student lenders, but its unique Independent loan makes it a good option for upper-class undergrads and grad students. It also offers a cosigned loan, which is more typical in the private student loan market. But for full-time juniors, seniors, and grad students, Ascent may be one of the few options to qualify for private loans and rates are competitive.

Elaine Rubin is the Senior Contributor and Communications Specialist at Edvisors. Ms. Rubin is responsible for maintaining content, responding to press and media inquiries, as well as serving as the lead contributor for the Edvisors blog and the Ask the Edvisor column. Ms. Rubin volunteers in the local Las Vegas community to help students and families understand the importance of education for success. Ms. Rubin has worked in higher education finance for more than 10 years, including seven years with the U.S. Department of Education's office of Federal Student Aid, and provides information and advice from both personal and professional experiences. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a concentration in Public Policy and Administration from Northeastern University.
Each federal student loan borrower is assigned to a loan servicer (some borrowers may have more than one servicer, depending on the types of loans you have). Your loan servicer is a company that collects your student loan payments and provides customer service on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education. This is a FREE service. There are many companies out there who offer to help you with your student loans for a fee. Do not trust these companies. Remember: You never have to pay for help with your student loans. If you need advice, assistance, or help applying for one of our repayment programs, contact your loan servicer. They can help you for free. Just remember to keep your contact information up to date so they can reach you when they need to.
After those two options, you should consider federal student loans. These typically have lower interest rates, better benefits, more protections for borrowers, and access to a wider variety of repayment plans. There are, however, federal student loan limits, so you may not be able to cover the rest of your education costs with them. In this situation, most students will turn to private student loans.

If you have no income and either no credit or bad credit, you’ll need a co-signer to get a private student loan. Without bills in your name, such as a credit card, car loan or utility, you have no way to demonstrate that you can pay bills on time. Your co-signer will need to have a steady income as well as good to excellent credit scores, typically at least in the high 600s. Signing with a co-signer means they’re on the hook for your loan bill if you can’t pay.

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Flat Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.78% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 54 monthly payments of $25 while in school, followed by 96 monthly payments of $176.21 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $18,266.38. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 11/4/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.


Many students ignore their loans until after graduation, but it’s wise to start paying them off while you’re in school. Get a part-time job while you’re in college and dedicate most or all of the earnings to your student loans. If you can pay off $800 a month while you’re in school, then you’ll have paid off $30,000 or more by the time you graduated. For some people, that’s their entire amount owed!

Hi Michelle. Does your spouse have any student loans? If so, his/her loan debt can be taken into account when calculating your payment. Also, the new Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan doesn’t require that you have a financial hardship, so you may qualify for that. Have you read this post: https://blog.ed.gov/2016/02/which-income-driven-repayment-plan-is-right-for-you/
Some schools offer Federal Perkins Loans to their students in financial need.  The students who took Perkins loan are eligible for Perkins loan cancellation program. The main condition is to be working as a teacher for minimum one year at a public elementary or secondary school as either a teacher in low-income schools, a special education teacher for children with disabilities or a teacher of Mathematics, Science, foreign languages, bilingual education or other fields that lack qualified teachers.

After those two options, you should consider federal student loans. These typically have lower interest rates, better benefits, more protections for borrowers, and access to a wider variety of repayment plans. There are, however, federal student loan limits, so you may not be able to cover the rest of your education costs with them. In this situation, most students will turn to private student loans.
Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.46% APR (with AutoPay) to 7.61% APR (without AutoPay). Variable rates currently from 2.31% APR (with AutoPay) to 7.61% (without AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.31% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.31% plus 0.75% margin minus 0.25% for AutoPay. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your credit history and the term of the loan and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
No, as long as you continue to work full-time for a government or not-for-profit agency (and meet all the other requirements), a second job won’t impact your eligibility. That said, the additional income from the second job will probably cause your payment to go up assuming you’re on an income-driven repayment plan (which you should be if you want PSLF.)
There might also be times when the school you included on your FAFSA selects you for verification. If that happens, you might simply need to prove extra documentation to confirm what you entered on your FAFSA. According to Federal Student Aid, this isn’t something to worry about — some schools might do this randomly, while others require it for everyone.
Some private student loan lenders may ask you to submit documents to verify some of this information. Once approved, all lenders require you to sign a promissory note that details every aspect of the loan you’re taking out. Once you’ve accepted the loan and signed all your documents, the lender will typically send the funds directly to your school. If you requested additional funds for school certified expenses, check with the financial aid office at your school to find out how they handle those funds.
You may have already realized that automatic online loan payments make your life easier. What you may not know is that all government and some private lenders charge a slightly lower interest rate (usually 0.25 percent less) if you make your monthly remittance this way. Over 25 years of payments, you’ll reduce your repayment period by at least a year, says Reyna Gobel, the author of Graduation Debt ($15, amazon.com). Best of all, you can sign up now, even if you’ve been repaying your loans for years.
There are no application, origination, or late fees from Discover. In fact, there are no fees at all. Discover doesn’t even charge late fees. That’s a unique and possibly valuable feature for some borrowers. In addition, Discover offers a 1.0% cash reward on each new student loan for borrowers with a 3.0 or better GPA. That’s a great good grades discount and another unique feature that makes Discover a good option for student loans.
CommonBond isn’t just a student lender trying to make money. They do a lot of social good, too, much of which happens through a partnership with nonprofit Pencils of Promise. CommonBond also offers a program for businesses to offer student loan assistance as an employee benefit. Wouldn’t it be great if all employers helped with student loans? CommonBond offers four repayment options that start either in-school or after graduation.
First, you’ll want to take a look at what repayment options lenders offer for students while they are in school, so you can find one that fits your budget. Making payments while you are in school can help you save on interest, but you should only sign up for a payment plan you can keep up with. As long as your lender doesn’t impose prepayment penalties, you can always make additional payments when you can afford it.
Next, you’ll receive your Student Aid Report, which outlines your expected family contribution. The form will automatically be forwarded to the schools listed on your application. The financial aid offices of those institutions will send you a financial aid award letter outlining the aid package they will offer. It’s your job to compare those offers and choose the school that best fits your future goals and family budget.
Overview: This online-only lender, which was founded by former Sallie Mae executives, distinguishes itself with increased flexibility. Borrowers can expect greater in-school and post-school repayment options than what’s found elsewhere. Also, students and parents alike will appreciate perks, such as no fees and low rates, in spite of a slow path to cosigner release.
For undergraduate and graduate student loans, you can borrow up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance (including tuition, housing, books and more) minus other financial aid. Aggregate loan limits apply. The minimum amount is $1,000 for each loan. We certify and disburse loan amounts through your school so you do not borrow more than you need.

When you consider the value of a college education — including the fact that average lifetime earnings for college graduates are nearly $1 million more than individuals with only a high school diploma or GED — student loans may be a smart investment. If you budget properly and have a good sense of the actual amount of money you need in loan funds to supplement other forms of aid as well as your resources, you can limit your overall indebtedness by borrowing only what you truly need. You should also consider the fact that there are no prepayment penalties. (Note: the lender partners on our site do not charge a prepayment penalty.)


“Before aggressively paying down your student loans, you should make sure you paid off high-interest debt such as credit cards or personal loans,” said Walsh. “You should also make sure you are saving enough for your long-term goals,” he said ― think retirement ― since, over time, the returns from investing have been higher than the interest rate most people pay on student loans.
The stark reality is most American students and families have to borrow money as part of the overall financing process to pay for a college education. In fact, according to the 13th Annual Project on Student Debt, “Student Debt and the Class of 2017,” published by The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) in 2018, average student loan debt among college seniors is $28,650. Moreover, approximately 15% of the debt acquired among the Class of 2017 was non-federal debt.
Discover is best known for its role as a top-four credit card network in the United States, but it does a lot more these days than helping you pay with plastic. In addition to a bank, Discover also grew to offer student loans at competitive rates. Variable rates range from 3.37 to 11.87% APR and fixed rates go from 4.74 to 12.99% APR. Loans come with 15-year or 20-year terms with no flexibility. Cosigner beware, there is no cosigner release available at Discover.
Interest rates and APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) depend upon (1) the student’s and cosigner’s (if applicable) credit histories, (2) the repayment option and repayment term selected, (3) the requested loan amount and (4) other information provided on the online loan application. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate applicable to your loan. Rates and terms are effective for applications received after on or after 12/01/2019. The variable interest rate for each calendar month is calculated by adding the current index (One-month LIBOR index) to your margin. LIBOR stands for London Interbank Offered Rate. The One-month LIBOR is published in the "Money Rates" section of the Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition). The One-month LIBOR index is captured on the 25th day of the immediately preceding calendar month (or if the 25th is not a business day, the next business day thereafter), and is rounded up to the nearest 1/8th of one percent. The current One-month LIBOR index is 1.750% on 12/01/2019. The variable interest rate will increase or decrease if the One-month LIBOR index changes or if a new index is chosen. The applicable index or margin for variable rate loans may change over time and result in a different APR than shown. The fixed rate assigned to a loan will never change except as required by law or if you request and qualify for the auto pay discount. APR Assumptions: APRs assume a $10,000 loan with two-disbursements The low APRs assume a 7-year term and no deferment. For loan details, repayment examples and additional disclosure statements visit: https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private/custom-choice-loan?referrer_link=NERDWALLET

“Some borrowers may be better off targeting the highest-rate loan for quicker repayment,” said Kantrowitz. “You can’t do that after consolidating. If the interest rate on the refi will be higher than most of the interest rates on the refinanced loans, except for one or two, you may save money by accelerating repayment of the highest-rate loans instead of refinancing.”
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