Student loan information can seem overwhelming. Here is a quick review of the five types of student loans for college and the pros and cons of each.
Best federal government need-based loan for students.
Pro: Lower fixed interest rate. No fees. Credit history not a factor unless you are in default on prior student loans. Subsidized, so interest doesn't start until after graduation.
Con: Funding limited to those with greatest need.
Most common federal student loan.
Pro: Fixed interest rate better than PLUS loan. Can be subsidized depending on need. Repayment is more flexible for disability or job loss than most private loans.
Con: Limit on how much can be borrowed using this loan.
Most common federal parent loan. Also used by grad students.
Pro: Fixed interest rate. Can cover full cost of attendance minus other aid.
Con: Subject to credit approval. Not as good a deal as Perkins or Stafford.
Provided by some colleges, states, employers, and scholarship groups.
Pro: Can be a better deal than some federal loans.
Con: Harder to find. Ask around and use scholarship directories.
Provided by banks and credit unions independent of the federal system.
Pro: May cover expenses beyond aid award.
Con: Subject to credit approval. Read the fine print-some private loans may compete with PLUS loans, but some are way more expensive than federal loans.
Elizabeth Johnson is a Lansing, Michigan-based freelance writer and EduGuide contributor. A version of this article originally appeared on the web site, www.ourspecialkids.com.
Saved to Your Personal Library.