One of Uncle Sam’s greatest gifts to the American student is the Federal student loan program which makes it possible for millions of young Americans to pursue higher education. But Federal student loans may not always cover tuition and expenses 100%. That’s why so many parents and students turn to private student loans to fill in the gap.
Private student loans — not just for tuition!
All the talk these days is about the higher costs of college tuition. But what often gets overlooked are all of the other college expenses that can make going to college more financially crushing.
However, that may not be a problem for you since most private loans can cover virtually all college expenses, including: o Room and board o Off-campus housing o Registration fees o Text books o Laptop/Internet access o Travel expenses to get to and from classes
How can you qualify for a private loan?
Because private loans are made by private institutions such as a bank or other private lending institution, your ability to get a loan will be based on merit, specifically good credit, essentially, a high enough credit score. The availability of a co-signer with good credit is even better from the lender’s perspective because taking into account a co-signer’s good credit, your combined probability of repaying the loan is higher. So, the lender can be more likely to approve you for a private loan.
If you think about it, most consumer loans require collateral, such as a house or a car. If a borrower doesn’t repay the loan, then lender can repossess your property, so it can sell it to recoup the money it had loaned out.
In the case of education loans, there really is no collateral; i.e., how can a lender repossess your education? It can’t. That’s why lenders rely on a good credit record, since that is a strong indicator that you and/or your co-signer have a proven track record of repaying on your credit cards or other loans in a timely and responsible manner.
Co-signers with good credit can help you qualify for a private loan, lower your borrowing costs and improve your own credit score!
Because private loans are based on merit, the rate you receive is based on your credit history and income. If you don’t have one or the other or both, having a creditworthy co-signer can be invaluable. In fact, a co-signer with good credit can help you obtain a private loan with a lower interest rate, saving you a ton of money over the life of the loan.
Another added benefit of a creditworthy co-signer is “guilt by association but in a good way.” This means that the timely, responsible repayment of your private loan under a co-signer arrangement will be a positive way to build up your own credit record.
Take advantage of private loan benefits
Of course the primary purpose of obtaining a student loan is to help you obtain a sound education so you can realize your career aspirations. And using credit wisely is important. That’s why you’re encouraged to seek out as much Federal student aid, grants and scholarships first before applying for a private loan.
Private loan application process — get pre-approved in minutes if you qualify!
However, once you determine that a private student loan can be a viable alternative funding source to cover your education finance gap, you could be pre-approved for a private loan within minutes of applying! Many times the application process is very simple and can, with most lenders, even be handled over the phone or online.
Longer pre-payment terms and no pre-payment penalties can help you better manage your cash flow after college
When it comes to paying back your private loans, many lenders give you up to 20 or 25 years to do so. The absence of pre-payment penalties means that as long as you make your minimum monthly payment, you can pay off your loans as fast or as slow as you want within your repayment term.
Interest rate discounts can help lower your cost of private loan borrowing even more!
Many private loan lenders would like to have your business. So be sure to shop around, and make sure to ask each lender about these and other private loan “borrower benefits” such as:
o An interest rate discount for automatic payment from a savings or checking account
o An interest rate discount for simply making on-time payments.
o Little or no origination fees, if you or your co-signer has good credit
Who is eligible for a Private Loan?
Keep in mind that each private loan lender has certain eligibility requirements. For most private student loans, you must meet the following criteria:
– Must be creditworthy applicant or have a creditworthy co-borrower
– Must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or international student with a qualified U.S. citizen or U.S. Permanent Resident co-signer
– Must be within age of majority by your state of residence (typically 18 years of age)
– May be a full time, half time, or less than half time (including continuing education) student
Types of Private loans
What’s great about private loans is that many lenders have a variety of loans that is tailored to fit your specific course of study. The loan name, minimum and maximum loan amounts, and the loan repayment terms are all tailored around the typical needs of the course of study you have chosen to pursue.
Undergraduate Private Loans – Just as the name implies, apply for an undergraduate private loan if you’re a college undergraduate, or are attending a career, technical, and trade school in the U.S., at least half-time. Continuing Education Private Loans – This private loan is right for you if you are completing a degree, a certification program or taking classes to further your career or for personal development. A continuing education private loan is available to you if you attend an eligible school at least part-time (less than half-time). Graduate/Professional Private loan – If you have decided to pursue an advanced degree at participating colleges and universities, and planning to attend at least half-time, then this private loan can get you the funds you need to achieve your educational goals. K-12 Education Private loan – If you are a parents or other adult sponsor (relative or friend) of children who attend participating non-public elementary schools, many lenders provide these loans to help cover the expenses. Most lenders provide K-12 education private loans for students who attend private, religious, preparatory, and military or special education schools.