When it’s time to pay for college, few students could afford without some form of education financing.
Even for those who do receive student aid, the amount, in reality, is far less than “what is needed”.
For students who need more assistance beyond Pell grant & scholarships, federal loan is often offered as part of a total financial aid package.
This form of aid, however, must be repaid with interest upon graduation.
According to the data from the U.S. Department of Education, among Pell Grant recipients who graduate from four-year colleges, nearly nine out of ten have student loans.
Types of Student Loans
The following types of loans are available for single mothers to cover tuition expenses they could not otherwise afford :—
- student loans (e.g. Stafford and Perkins loans),
- graduate loans (e.g. Grad PLUS loans) and
- private student loans.
A fourth type of education loan is the consolidation loan which is a type of loan that allows the borrower to consolidate all of their loans into one loan for simplified payment.
Unlike private loans, student & graduate loans are heavily subsidized by the federal government, interest rates are generally lower and the repayment schedule more flexible.
1 Stafford Loans
Stafford loans can either be “subsidized” or “unsubsidized”. “Subsidized” means that the interest is paid by the government while you’re in school. To receive a subsidized Stafford Loan, you must first demonstrate financial need.
For unsubsidized loan, you are responsible for all of the interest that accrues while you are still in school. Most students, regardless of financial need, are eligible for the unsubsidized Stafford Loan.
The current interest rate for “subsidized” & “unsubsidized” loans is fixed at 4.66% for undergraduates. Graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 per year of “unsubsidized” loan, which carries a 6.21% interest rate.
2 Perkins Loans
Perkins Loan is a need-based education loan awarded to students with “exceptional financial need” — regardless of income level or credit history.
It carries a fixed interest rate of 5% for the duration of the 10-year repayment period; making if one of the best student loans available. And since it is a subsidized loan, the interest is paid by the government during the in-school and 9-month grace periods.
However, not all schools participate in the Perkins Loan Program. You should check with your school’s financial aid office to see if your school participates.
3 Grad PLUS loans
Graduate PLUS loans offer an additional funding options for independent students who are graduate and professional students.
The interest rate is fixed annually at 7.21%, plus up-front fees of up to 4.292% of the amount borrowed. The repayment begins as soon as the funds are disbursed to your account.
To get a PLUS loan, you must not have adverse credit based on the review of at least one credit report from a national credit reporting agency.
4 Private Student Loans
Private loans, on the other hand, help bridge the gap between the actual cost of your education and the limited amount the government allows you to borrow.
Eligibility for “private borrowing” often depends on your credit rating. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to check your credit score in advance.
Regardless of which option you choose, you should always consider maximizing your eligibility for unsubsidized Stafford loan before tapping into private loans. The key is to do it wisely, which means borrowing as little as possible and finding loans with the best terms available.
Because the last thing you’ll ever want is to be saddled with debt that can’t be discharged by simply filing for bankruptcy. Though relief may be available in what’s called an “income-based repayment plan.”