Thinking about getting a student loan to help pay for your college education? You're not alone. About two-thirds of all people attending public and private colleges and universities take out student loans. This is a necessity because the cost of higher education has soared in recent years. The Project on Student Debt reports that for 2007 graduates, the average student borrower graduating from a private institution had a student debt of $25,700, and the average graduate borrower in a public institution has a debt burden of $19,400.
What Is A Student Loan And Why Did Student Loans Come Into Being?
These might seem like simple questions, but the mechanism is quite complex. Obviously a student loan is money that is lent to a student to pay his or her expenses while pursuing a course of study at an institution of higher learning. These expenses include room and board, tuition, text books, perhaps travel to and from school, and other student fees and expenses. The complexity arises because most students are young and have not established a credit history which would enable them to get a loan. Also, the repayment schedules can last very long, sometimes as long as repaying the mortgage on a house, for example. Essentially the student and the creditor are betting that with the degree earned in college the student will earn more money in his or her profession than he or she would without the degree and that with the proper repayment terms the student loans will be affordable for the student for the life of the loan. Student loans can be government backed loans or private loans. All students should start their loan search by applying for government backed loans before looking at private loans. Government backed or federal loans have many advantages that private loans do not.
How Do I Apply For A Student Loan?
After sending in an application to one or more colleges and universities, you must fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The Department of Education will then complete a SAR (Student Aid Report) and this is sent to the institutions to which you applied for admittance. These institutions will then determine your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). This is used to determine how much federal student aid would be available to you. The difference between the amount of loans you can secure and the total cost of your schooling is the amount that you and your family will have to come up with. PLUS loans (Parental Loans for Undergraduate Studies) are federally backed loans available to the parents of students, and about 10% of student families take out PLUS loans to help supplement college costs.
Some Basic Advice
After leaving school and starting your work career it will be time to start paying back your loans. Whatever you do, do not default on your student loans. If money gets tight you can change your repayment plan to have lower payments. In some cases you can defer payments for a while. You might even qualify to have some of your debt forgiven if you go into the military, public service, work for a federal agency, or are employed in certain healthcare jobs. But in any case do not default on your student loans because if you do you will lose some of your options, not to mention creating a bad credit rating that will make your life difficult for quite a few years. It is truly a shame that about 20% of student borrowers reportedly have delinquent loans after only 3 years of loan repayments. You should make an effort to know your repayment options and avoid being part of that 20%.
Can I Get Out Of My Student Loans By Declaring Bankruptcy?
No, neither federal nor private student loans can be dismissed if you declare bankruptcy except under very rare instances, so that is not a real option.