Going to college can increase your chances of getting the job of your dreams. College can be costly, but luckily there are places that offer student loans. School counselors and college enrollment counselors can provide you with information on applying for loans to fund your college education. The best places for student loans offer low interest rates.
Federal Student Loans
Federal student loans are one of the best options for students for a couple of reasons: they are offered directly though the university, and they carry low interest rates, which means you won't have to pay a bank a fortune to pay off the tuition. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA, to see if you qualify for government aid. As of 2011, eligibility depends on if your and your parents' incomes and assets are less than or about $80,000 a year. There are two types of federal loans: Stafford loans and Perkins loans. Perkins loans are offered to students who have the greatest financial need. These loans have an interest rate of about 5 percent. You can borrow up to $5,500 for each year of undergraduate study, according to 2011 data from FAFSA. The total amount you can borrow through the program as an undergraduate is $27,500. Stafford loans have interest rates of 4.5 percent and higher. With the Stafford loan, you can borrow up to $20,500 per year.
State loan programs are another one of the best places for student loans. There are 38 states that offer educational loans at rates a little higher than the federal programs. State agencies administer most of the programs, but organizations, colleges and universities administer many others, according to the U.S. Scholarship Guide. These college loan services are available to undergraduate students who are residents in the state or are out-of-state residents going to school in that state. Rates on these loans can range from 6 to 8.19 percent, as of 2011.
Direct PLUS Loans
Parents can help their children a lot if they choose to participate in a Direct PLUS Loan. These loans, which usually are offered along with federal student loans, offer a lower interest rate than many private lenders such as Sallie Mae. The lender is the Department of Education. Since the Stafford and Perkins loans usually only finance a portion of the college education, with Direct PLUS Loans, parents can borrow the entire remaining cost of a student's higher education after federal and state loans. Parents pay a rate of 7.9 percent or more in addition to a 4 percent fee.
Banks and Private Lenders
As a last resort, there are also several private lending institutions to turn to for student aid. Sallie Mae, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Discover and PNC all offer programs for students. It is best to apply to several lenders at once; then compare the interest rates they offer you. The interest rate they offer will depend on your credit score.
Maria Woehr is a journalist with over 10 years of professional writing experience. She started editing in 2006 and has been published in "The Westfield Leader Times," "Insurance & Technology Magazine," "InformationWeek," "Positive Thinking Magazine," "Go Magazine," "The Deal," "The Financial Times" and many other outlets. She is a graduate of Boston University and has a master's degree from Drew University.