Once you’ve completed your FAFSA and lined up the federal loans available to you, you may still be in need of more aid. After all, tuition costs keep rising, and books, meal plans, and room and board aren’t cheap. Private student loans can help fill this financing gap. Many banks offer them, so the question is, how do you find the right lender for you? Here are some things to look for when deciding on which private student loan lender to choose.
Start by asking your school for a preferred lender list
Your college likely has a list of private student loan lenders they recommend. This is a good place to begin your search as these lending institutions have been vetted by the school. If your college doesn’t have one, you can ask friends and family for recommendations, or talk to your high school guidance counselors about lenders that students have used in the past.
Look for helpful tools like a student loan calculator or how-to articles
Once you have that list (or even if such a list isn’t available), start evaluating potential lenders by seeing how friendly and helpful their websites and representatives are. For example, can you use a student loan calculator to see how much your loans may end up costing when you repay them? Are there helpful articles, tips or guides that explain student loans to your satisfaction? Taking out loans is a substantial matter, impacting your credit and someday your disposable income. You want to be sure you’re working with a lender that makes it easy to understand the student loan process and the true numbers.
Look at how easy they make it to apply for student loans
Be sure you also take a look at the application itself. When you apply for student loans, it’s important to get the information correct and complete on the first try so there is no delay in processing. A user-friendly application process will tell you up front what you’ll need on hand in order to fill it out.
Investigate their repayment options
Since you’re only just applying for a loan, it may seem early to start thinking about repayment. But, someday you’ll have to budget for these payments, and if you borrow a lot, the payments can be substantial. Do your homework now to see if the lender will work with you to accommodate your financial situation. Ask if they offer graduated payments or income-based repayment.
See if the lender also offers graduate loans
Something else to consider in this process is if you could continue doing business with the lender for graduate school. Establishing a good relationship with a lender, where they understand your credit and ability to repay, may be instrumental in qualifying for graduate loans. At that point, you’ll probably have more debt than income, so previous loans, positive repayment history or banking relationships may work in your favor.
Apply for private student loans early to prepare for the upcoming school year
No matter which lender you choose, complete your application well before the start of the semester so you can be assured that you have the necessary financing lined up for school. That way, you can get settled in with books, housing and other related expenses. Having the finances squared away means you can focus on your classes and enjoying a full college experience.
Sponsored content was created and provided by RBS Citizens Financial.