If you need financial aid to cover your educational costs, you can always opt for a student loan, grants, or scholarship. Statics shows that about 70% of college graduates have debts, so you aren’t alone.
It is equally important to understand the processes involved before applying for a Loan, the different student loan requirements, the types of loans available, and where to get them.
In this article, we will discuss the various steps involved so you can get the best undergraduate student loans to aid your studies.
- Understand your options
Before you think of securing a college loan, find out the various options available. They include; private loans for students, federal loans for students, private loans for parents, and federal loans for parents.
Federal student loans are more preferable to their private counterparts due to their flexibility and manageable terms. They are also readily available to all government students and don’t require parent involvement.
Federal loans also cost less than the private loan and are easier to repay. Still, you can borrow a larger amount with a private loan program at favorable interest rates as long as your financial history is great.
- Gather your information
There are various things involved when applying for a student loan. As such, it is important to do the necessary research. Get to know the payment terms, the amount of interest rate charged as well as the origination fees and any possible penalties.
Your lender will also ask you for basic information like your parent’s tax returns, information about your parent’s gross income including their investments, untaxed income, both the student’s and parent’s social security numbers and dates of birth, a list of schools, grant or scholarships if any among others.
- Complete the FAFSA
You will need to fill in a FAFSA form online when applying for a college loan. This form is usually free but it comes with a deadline. It is important to act quickly to avoid missing the funds.
Considering that there are so many college students looking for financial aids, the chances of the funds getting exhausted are high. You can visit the relevant website for government student loans to get the form or use the provided toll number.
Your FAFSA form will proceed much faster if you submit it online, approximately within 3 to 5 days. It takes around 10 days for a paper application to be processed. See this link to read on some of the advantages of taking student loans https://www.retirementwatch.com/the-advantages-of-student-loans
- Review your student aid report
Once you have submitted your FAFSA form, you’re given a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR provides a summary of all your financial records together with your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
Go through the provided document keenly and be on the lookout for errors. In case of any errors, log in to the FAFSA website and make corrections. The SAR is sent to your preferred colleges where they use it to provide information on the amount of loan, you’re eligible for.
- Fill out a CSS Profile
Aside from the federal aid, the other institutional aid options available to you include scholarships and grants. Students who apply for the College Board CSS profile have a better chance of getting institutional aid.
A CSS profile gives you access to various scholarships, loans, and grants provided by different academic institutions that you’re interested in. visit a CSS website to apply and then select the school you’re interested in.
You will also be required to provide your parents details including W-2 forms, investment statements, bank statements, mortgage information, tax returns, and Social Security numbers.
- Review your financial aid award letter
After submitting your FAFSA, you will also receive a financial aid award letter from the schools you choose.
This letter carries information on work-study opportunities available, the total estimated cost of housing and meals, personal and miscellaneous expenses, tuition and fees, and books and supplies, plus the scholarships and grants you qualified for. Keep in mind that this information varies from one school to another.
If the financial aid award is to your liking, you will need to sign it and send it back. In case you receive financial aid letters from several institutions, compare the offers and choose one that is beneficial to your needs.
- Determine if you’ll need to apply for private loans
If the financial aid you opt for is not enough to finance your college expenses, you can always opt for a private student loan. Click here to read more.
Whether you opt for federal aid or a private loan, there are various steps involved to acquire the funds. Since government loans tend to be less costly and easier to pay, we recommend choosing them over private aids. However, if you need a higher amount than the federal student loans program can offer, a private loan could be the perfect option. Remember, the application processes vary so do your research before applying for either federal or a private loan.