Student Loans - What You Need To Know

by Violet WillettSeptember 20, 2023

What are Student Loans

A student loan is an unsecured form of a financial institution loan to cover the costs of college and the associated costs, like books, tuition, living expenses, and other costs related to attending college. Student loans are usually offered for at least 18 years of age, have graduated from high school, and are employed in a position that allows them to receive a Federal Pell Grant to cover their education's full cost. The financial assistance office of your school can provide you with more information about grants and their requirements.

College Loans

College loans are used mainly for paying for school, as opposed to a college loan being used for debt consolidation purposes or even to purchase your own home. When you attend college, most people use their student loans to cover books, tuition, and other related expenses. The interest rate and fees associated with student loans may also be applied to the principal balance. This can result in high monthly payments. Some collateral generally secures student loans, so if you fail to make your payments, the school or the financial institution that issued the loan can repossess the collateral.

Student loans come in various types and are sometimes referred to as private, federal, and institutional. Federal student loans are distributed by the federal government and are paid back by the federal government through the US Department of Education. Federal student loans do not require collateral and are secured by income-based repayment plans. On the other hand, private student loans are provided by private institutions and are given to students based on merit-based repayment plans. Private student loans are also not secured and can pose a risk to the institution if the borrower defaults.

Paying off Student Loans

A student must begin repaying his or her loan early to keep it from accruing interest. Most of the student loans come with a grace period of six months after graduation or enrollment in the program so that you can begin paying off your student loans without incurring any additional interest and fees. Once you begin your loan repayment, your student loan will start accruing interest. The longer you repay your loan, the more money you will have to pay each month.

Interest Rates

Interest rates on loans are set to match the market rate, so when you go to the bank or other lender and apply for a loan, the interest rate for that loan will be the same as your current interest rate. The interest rate is lower than it would be for a new loan because it has committed to giving you the money, which guarantees that the loan will be repaid in time.

Your student loan is secured against your future earnings, so if you should end up not being able to pay your loan, the institution can foreclose on your home or take your car, or other assets, to recoup the amount that you borrowed. The lender is also under no obligation to accept an offer from you and can garnish wages and repossess assets if you cannot make your student loan payments. Therefore, you should ensure that you understand your rights, including all of your rights under federal and state laws regarding the loan, the payment terms, and any penalties for defaulting.

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