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Student Loans: Federal Stafford, Federal PLUS, Federal Perkins, Alternative, and Federal Consolidation Loans

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Many students and their parents have found Federal Stafford (student loan), Federal Perkins, Federal PLUS (parent loan), GradPLUS loans, and private student loans (also known as alternative loans) to be attractive alternatives to depleting their savings, using current income or borrowing against their home equity when grants and scholarships do not cover all costs. If you've already graduated, combine multiple payments into one with a federal consolidation loan.

Alternatively, if you are studying to become, or are currently working as, a primary care health professional, competitive loan repayment and scholarship programs are available through the National Health Service Corps.

The Federal Undergraduate Stafford Loan is a simple interest, government guaranteed, no collateral loan. The interest rate is a fixed rate. Students may borrow while in school and begin repayment six months after leaving school, graduating, or dropping below half-time enrollment.

Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized
Depending on your level of financial need, you may be eligible to borrow a "Subsidized" or an "Unsubsidized" Stafford Loan, and in some cases, both. With Subsidized Stafford Loans, the government pays the interest that accrues on the loan while you are enrolled, during your six-month grace period, and during deferment. Your school of attendance will determine your eligibility for these loan types.

The Federal PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) is a simple interest, government guaranteed, no collateral loan. The fixed interest rate is 7.9%. Parents may be eligible to borrow up to the total cost of education less all financial aid received. This total cost can include tuition and fees, room and meals, books and supplies, transportation, and more. Parents are eligible for the PLUS if they meet the minimum government credit requirements. Parents begin repayment 30 days after the final disbursement for the academic year.

The GradPLUS Loan, like the Federal PLUS, is a simple interest, government guaranteed, no collateral loan. The fixed interest rate is 7.9%. Student applicants, such as graduate and professional degree students, are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the applicant must not have an adverse credit history.

Private Student Loans, also known as Alternative Loans can fill the gap between what you receive from all financial aid sources and what you really need to cover the cost of your education. Private loans come in many varieties and originate from different banks, so it's very important to compare student loans and find the financial variables that best fit your needs. APR, total loan costs and interest rate are good points of comparison. Other factors to consider during your search for a student loan include the length of repayment and monthly payment amount, as you must determine how much you'll be able to pay upon graduation.

The Federal Consolidation Loan is a fixed rate, Federal government-guaranteed, no collateral loan. The interest rate is the weighted average of your loans being consolidated rounded up to the nearest 1/8th percent. It is ideal for borrowers wanting to combine several types of Federal education loans into one for the purpose of making their student loan payments easier and more affordable.

U.S. Department of Education is Lender
Most subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans are eligible
Flexible repayment options
No pre-payment penalties
Consolidation is free

Still in school? If you are interested in a stafford loan, parent loan for undergraduate students (PLUS), or private student loan (alternative), please call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (U.S. Dept. of Education) at 1-800-4-FED-AID.

Trying to locate your student loans? If you already have a federal student loan (also known as a Title IV loan) and need to find out your outstanding balance, disbursements, or loan status, please visit the National Student Loan Data System offered by the U.S. Department of Education.