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August 7, 2020

Why do Some Students Borrow Traditional Private Student Loans?

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Using private loans for school is a way to help cover costs. It’s important to do your research in order to know if using private loans is right for you.

Finding the best financial aid when going to college can be challenging. Income Share Agreements can be an excellent way to pay for college as they keep payments affordable since your payments are linked to your income by a percentage. Federal student loans are also a popular option because they offer fixed interest rates and, generally, no credit check.

However, some students need to borrow traditional private student loans to supplement their federal loans. According to a Franklin University report, master’s degrees can cost anywhere between $30,000 and $100,000. Because of this increase in price, it makes sense that traditional private student loans are on the rise.

Using traditional private student loans for school is a way to cover any financial aid gaps and afford to go to the school you want. Still, it’s important to take many factors into consideration so you don’t find yourself facing a mountain of student loan debt upon graduation. Do your research in order to know if borrowing traditional private student loans could be a suitable course of action for you. For important data on traditional private student loan trends check out LendEDU’s market report. So, what does a traditional private student loan look like?

What are traditional private student loans?

Unlike federal student loans, which are designated by the government, independent lenders issue traditional private student loans. These can be traditional banks or credit unions, or student loan specific organizations like Sallie Mae.

Each organization has different eligibility requirements, interest rates, and repayment terms. So, it’s a great idea to compare different options before choosing one. Even though traditional private student loans may not always be your best financial option, there are some situations where taking out a traditional private student loan makes sense. Let’s look at three instances where you might consider a private student loan.

1. You’ve hit borrowing limits on other financial options

If you’ve exhausted all other options including scholarships, grants, federal financial aid, and Income Share Agreements, but still have a gap in covering your costs, then you may need to consider traditional private graduate student loans. Federal loans come with a borrowing cap that limits the amount of money students can receive. That cap currently sits at $31,000 for undergraduate students who are dependents. That $31,000 is the total amount of federal loans a student can take out for undergraduate studies.

Meanwhile, the average cost of tuition at a public, four-year, in-state college is $10,230 annually. Over four years, that’s $40,920, more than the current federal loan limit. If you think that’s expensive, it’s only a fraction of the tuition cost at public out-of-state colleges and private universities. Students who attend pricier schools are even more likely to need traditional private loans when their federal borrowing options run out.

This creates a financial aid gap that may require additional borrowing to pay for the cost of college. Borrowing a traditional private student loan can help fill that gap.

2. You’re ineligible for federal student loans

Federal Student Aid sets specific requirements students must meet in order to be eligible. Although many college students can meet financial aid eligibility guidelines, not all will. For example, students who are not U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or eligible non-citizens are ineligible for all federal student aid, including federal student loans.

Students can also lose financial aid eligibility. If your grades are less than 2.0 and if you’re enrolled less than half the time, you may not be eligible for federal student aid.

Other reasons a student might not qualify for federal student loans include failing to register with Selective Service before reaching age 26.

That said, if a student loses eligibility for federal student loans, even on a temporary basis, many students turn to traditional private student loans as one option to cover their costs.  With college costs going nowhere but up, many students need to borrow money to make repayments.

3. Your traditional private loan rates are lower than what they would be for federal loans

Federal student loans are not based on your credit history. Everyone pays the same interest rate regardless of their credit score. This does help borrowers with low credit scores. However, a good credit score or a cosigner could help you secure a lower interest rate with traditional private student loans which will save you money over time. Traditional private student loans are unlikely to offer a lower fixed rate than a Federal loan, but, if the borrower or cosigner has excellent credit, the interest rate on a private student loan may be lower than the federal interest rate.

How to know if you’re eligible for traditional private student loans

While the government considers your level of financial need when it comes to issuing financial aid, private lenders have different requirements. Factors that are taken into consideration can include your income, credit score, if you have a cosigner, and debt-to-income ratio. Eligibility will vary by lender, but having a low credit score or no credit history will likely make it difficult for you to qualify. Having a cosigner can help if their credit score and income meets the eligibility requirements.

Overall, the decision to take out traditional private student loans is one you should consider carefully. If you’ve already exhausted federal student loan and Income Share Agreement options but still need funds for school, a traditional private student loan may be a good option for finishing school.

Carefully work through your options before taking out traditional private student loans. If you’re interested in learning more about great financial aid, options for schools, or programs check out our student’s page!

About the author

This post was prepared by the author, in her/his personal capacity. The views expressed are her/his own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Meratas Inc.
The information contained in this site is general in nature and should not be considered to be legal, tax, accounting, financial or other professional advice. In all cases, you should consult with professional advisors familiar with your particular situation prior to making any important decisions. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, Meratas Inc. makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of this content. Meratas Inc. assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained herein or the operation or use of these materials. Copyright 2022

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