Student loans are a hot topic of late, so here are a few tips to get schooled on the subject.
- Avoid Them. The best strategy to paying back a student loan is not needing one in the first place. Explore scholarships, grants, working part-time, military programs, or employer tuition reimbursement programs to help pay for school.
- Minimize Them. Once you have exhausted all efforts to avoid student loans, try to minimize the amount you borrow. To save money, consider attending community college before transferring to a public or private institution. Or, consider attending a less expensive college.
- Learn Your Options. Visit studentaid.gov for more information about paying for college.
- Choose Federal Over Private. If you need to borrow for college, start with federal loans first. Federal loans typically offer lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private loans. Federal loans also can be tax deductible, and have the potential to be subsidized or even forgiven under certain conditions.
- Complete the FAFSA. All students interested in financial aid should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually by October 1.
- Understand Repayment Options. Federal student loans offer a number of repayment options, including many that are income-based. Private loans also offer some choices for how to pay back your debt though they are more limited than federal loans. Be sure to work with your lender or loan servicer to determine the repayment options that work best for you.
- Consolidate Carefully. Avoid for-profit companies promising to consolidate your loans for a fee. You can often do this yourself. Visit the National Foundation for Credit Counseling for additional information.