Student Loans for College

Before Borrowing Student Loans for College

Student loans for college aren't the only way to pay for school. To save the most money over your lifetime, here's how you should look for money for college:

  1. Look for Scholarships and Grants before taking out college student loans
  2. Apply for federal aid by completing the FAFSA
  3. It's a FREE U.S. government website, so beware of sites that charge you to apply!
  4. Apply for aid through your state government
  5. Use your federal and state grants
  6. You'll know if you're eligible after you complete the FAFSA and your state's paperwork
  7. Use your savings
  8. Use work-study money or work part-time through school
  9. It's easy to get distracted by work - find the right balance for studying
  10. A Bachelor's degree or more advanced degrees can earn you an additional million dollars over your lifetime – make sure you don't lose track of your goals!
  11. Borrow federal student loans for college. The most common federal student loan is the Stafford Loan.
  12. Graduate students should also apply for a Grad PLUS Loan
  13. For more information, check out our Student Loan Guide.
  14. Ask your parents to take out parent student loans for you, such as a PLUS Loan
  15. Research and apply for private college loans

The Right Loan for You

Financial aid, including student loans for college, can be a complicated process and you want to get the right information. Loan products and loan limits may vary, depending on your year in school and whether or not you are a parent. We’ve created information on federal and private college loans that is tailored to you:

If you need to borrow money, federal student loans for college can be the answer. There are different types of government student loans available, mostly based on financial need. Federal student loans are the best choice once you have exhausted free money options, like scholarships and grants.

If you need to borrow money, federal student loans for college are a great deal. The problem: with loan amounts tied to your grade level and school status, most times they don't cover your full cost of attendance. The typical undergraduate student is eligible for:

  • $5,500 Freshman
  • $6,500 Sophomore
  • $7,500 Junior, Senior and 5th year undergraduate students

For more information on federal student loans for college, including interest rates and where to apply, check our Student Loan Guide.

Private College Loans

Private college loans are one great way to pay for college. A private loan is not backed by the federal government, so it's more like a traditional consumer loan. There's less paperwork and it's faster to apply and get your money to your school, but the rates and terms on federal loans are likely to save you more money over your lifetime. Remember to maximize your federal student loans for college before considering private college loans. Also, with private college loans, you will probably need a co-signer who is willing to sign for the loan with you, if you aren't working or don't have sufficient credit history.

Get more information on private student loans.