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Student Loan Guide

The U.S. Department of Education awards more than $150 billion in federal student aid each year. As the cost of higher education continues to rise, it is critical for students to understand how financial assistance may impact their academic and economic goals. According to Student Loan Hero, a class of 2016 graduate leaves college owing an average of $37,172 in student loan debt, which is a 6% increase from the previous year. Understanding the consequences of taking on financial assistance allows students to make smarter choices as informed consumers. The following guide provides an overview of key information that should be considered when selecting college financial aid.

a 2016 graduate leaves college owing an average of $37,172 in student loan debt, which is a 6% increase from the previous year

Types of Financial Aid

As students begin their search for financial assistance, it is important to consider the different types of aid available and the benefits and drawbacks each type offers. The following information provides students with an overview of the various kinds of financial aid available, ranging from monetary gifts to federal and private loans. Before accepting financial aid offers, students should familiarize themselves with loan repayment requirements, including interest rates, repayment time frames, and opportunities for loan forgiveness.

Scholarships

Students receive scholarships based on academic achievement, financial need, and other special situations, such as being a first-generation student or having children. Scholarships are monetary gifts and do not require repayment. Numerous scholarship opportunities are available to students, including university merit awards and private donorship. Examples of scholarship sources are schools, employers, and nonprofit and professional organizations.

Performance scholarships provide awards to students who have exceptional abilities in areas such art or music. Athletic scholarships are available to elite athletes. Many scholarships require students to maintain a high GPA and meet certain eligibility requirements, such as attending school full-time. Scholarship databases provide students with access to thousands of available scholarships, and students may apply for school-based scholarships through their university’s financial aid office. Scholarship awards vary widely in their amount, from covering the cost of books to paying for tuition. Scholarship deadlines also differ, and students are encouraged to apply for scholarships as soon as possible.

Grants

Like scholarships, grants do not require repayment. Grants are need-based and available through colleges, private organizations, and the government. Several types of federal grants are offered through the U.S. Department of Education, including Pell grants, TEACH grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan service grants. To be considered for federal grant money, students must complete the FAFSA to determine their financial need. They should also contact their school’s financial aid office to find out about award amounts and disbursement dates. Additionally, there are numerous grant databases that connect students with private grant opportunities, ranging from grants for women and single mothers to grants for minority students and veterans. Students can apply for grants through their university, state, and federally with the Department of Education. Grant application processes differ and instructions are available through individual grant websites. While it is possible to receive awards from multiple grants, the total amount of aid received affects a student’s need-based status.

Work-study Programs

Students with financial need often qualify for federal work-study programs, which provide undergraduate and graduate students with jobs. Employment through a work-study program is part-time and allows students to earn money that can be applied to their educational and living expenses. Students typically engage in community service or work related to their academic interests. Job positions may be on- or off-campus. While some universities have work-study agreements with private for-profit entities, students participating in an off-campus work-study program are usually employed by nonprofit organizations. Students work approximately 12 to 15 hours per week and earn at least the federal minimum wage. Factors that influence compensation include the skills required for the job, a student’s level of financial need, and the school’s funding level. Students cannot exceed their total work-study award, and an individual’s class schedule and academic progress influence the amount of work-study hours they receive. To be eligible for a work-study program, students apply for federal financial aid; they then work with a financial aid counselor from their school to determine specific work-study job opportunities.

Loans

Loans are sums of money that students borrow in order to pay for their education. Unlike scholarships, grants, and work-study programs, loans must be repaid along with accrued interest. Federal loans are funded by the federal government and can be unsubsidized or subsidized. State loans, offered through a student’s state of permanent residence or the state that is home to their university, have specific eligibility requirements and benefits. Private lenders, such as banks and credit unions, also offer financial assistance to students.

Federal Loans

*Based on the most recent data provided by the U.S. Department of Education

What’s the Difference Between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans?

The U.S. Department of Education offers subsidized and unsubsidized loans that have low interest rates. Undergraduate students with financial need may receive subsidized loans. Subsidized loans offer the advantage of federally-paid interest while students are enrolled at least half-time, during a six-month grace period after graduation, and during periods of deferment. Loan amounts are determined by the school a student attends, and the amount must not exceed their financial need. Students may receive subsidized loans for up 150% of the published length of their program (e.g., six years for a four-year program).

Like subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans offer low and fixed interest rates. However, students are responsible for paying back the entirety of accrued interest. Available to undergraduate and graduate students, unsubsidized loans do not require evidence of financial need. No time limit exists for unsubsidized loan eligibility.

What is a Perkins Loan?

Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with exceptional financial need may apply for a Perkins loan. This type of loan is available for full- and part-time students. Unlike subsidized and unsubsidized loans, which are offered through the U.S. Department of Education, Perkins loans are available through participating schools. The school is the lender and students make payments to their institution’s loan service provider. Schools have the power to determine the amount of funding a student receives, and, due to limited funding, not everyone who qualifies for a Perkins loan will get one. Perkins loans cover tuition, academic fees, and room and board.

Perkins Loans
Amount Awarded Undergraduates receive as much as $5,550 a year, up to a total of $27,500. Graduate and professional students receive up to $8,000 per year and may receive a maximum of $60,000; this value includes the amount they borrowed as an undergraduate
Current Interest Rate 5%
Loan Fees There are no additional charges; however, late fees do apply when making payments.
When Does Repayment Begin? Students start making payments nine months after graduating or leaving college.
Who May Apply? Full- or part-time undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with exceptional financial need who attend a participating university may apply. Other eligibility requirements vary depending on school-specific criteria.

Source: FinAid

Private Loans

While private lenders offer loans to assuage the cost of higher education, private loans should only be considered after you’ve exhausted all federal assistance options. Federal student loans offer a range of benefits, including fixed interest rates, payment grace periods and deferment options, no credit check for most loans, and consolidation plans. In contrast, private loans often require repayment while students are still in school and have variable interest rates that can be as high as 18%. Some private lenders also require a credit check and cosigner. Students with no credit or bad credit may not receive the loan amount needed to pay for their school’s tuition and other expenses. Many private loans offer low interest rates with high fees, which may end up costing more than loans with higher interest rates and no fees. According to FinAid, when considering a private loan, students should seek out loans with interest rates of LIBOR + 2.0% or PRIME – 0.50% with no fees.

Loans for Immigrants, Undocumented Students, and International Students

There are several loan opportunities available for non-U.S. citizens. Eligible noncitizens qualify for federal student aid if they are U.S. nationals or U.S. permanent residents with either a Permanent Resident Card, Resident Alien Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card. Additionally, battered immigrant-qualified aliens, noncitizens and/or their parents with T-1 nonimmigrant status, and noncitizens with with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services are eligible for financial aid. Citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau are also eligible for certain types of aid, including federal Pell grants. A parent’s citizenship or immigration status does affect federal aid eligibility.

Noncitizens who are not eligible for federal aid include those who only hold a G series visa, F-1 or F-2 nonimmigrant student visa, J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrant Exchange Visitor Visa, or a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence. Students granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are ineligible for federal aid but may still receive state or college student aid. Students who are not residents of the U.S. and do not meet eligibility criteria may qualify for scholarships that are offered through their school or country of citizenship and are encouraged to explore the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship database.

Loans for Graduate Students

Graduate and professional students are eligible for federal financial aid in the form of direct unsubsidized loans, direct PLUS loans, Perkins loans, TEACH grants, federal work-study jobs, and federal Pell grants. Graduate students do not qualify for direct subsidized loans; therefore, they must pay any interest that is accrued on their loans while attending school.

Common eligibility requirements for graduate students include demonstration of financial need (this is not necessary for unsubsidized loans), U.S. resident or eligible noncitizen status, and at least half-time enrollment. Graduate and professional students may borrow up to $138,500, which includes federal loan amounts they received during undergraduate study.

Applying for Student Loans

The following section provides students with an overview of the steps needed to obtain financial assistance. In order to receive federal financial aid, students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This form can be completed electronically, and its easy step-by-step process quickly connects eligible students with financial aid options.

Most students are eligible for financial aid

The FAFSA

Completing the FAFSA is the first step towards receiving financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. Information gathered through the FAFSA determines a student’s financial need, and submission of the FAFSA form ensures that eligible students gain access to the federal assistance programs they qualify for. After applying for federal aid, students receive a Student Aid Report that summarizes their FAFSA information. Many schools and states also rely on the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility for school and state aid. FAFSA deadlines vary depending on the federal aid program. Students applying for federal aid for the 2017-18 school year can apply until June 30, 2018. For the 2018-19 school year, students may apply between October 1, 2017 and June 30, 2019. Many state and federal programs have limited funding, so students should apply as soon as the FAFSA form is available. To determine specific deadlines, students can search for their state and school year through the federal student aid deadline search engine.

Most students are eligible for financial aid. Basic criteria include U.S. citizenship with a valid social security number or non-citizenship with the documentation outlined above, completion of high school or its equivalent, acceptance or enrollment in an eligible degree or certificate program, and satisfactory academic progress. Age, race, or field of study do not affect financial aid eligibility. Factors that limit eligibility include criminal convictions, intellectual disabilities, and defaulted federal student loans.

What You Need:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Your most recent federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.)
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
  • An FSA ID to sign electronically.

How is Need Determined?

Several factors influence the amount of financial assistance that a student receives. Federal aid is determined by considering a student’s expected family contribution (EFC), enrollment status, year in school, and the school’s cost of attendance (COA). Once they submit their FAFSA form, a student’s college financial aid office decides the cost of attendance and subtracts it from the student’s EFC to determine how much need-based aid students can receive. Factors that influence a school’s COA include tuition and fees; the cost of room and board; and the cost of books, supplies, and transportation. Child care and disability costs also influence a student’s COA. A student’s EFC is determined from the information provided on the FAFSA form. A family’s size, number of children in college, taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits influence a student’s EFC. Simply put, subtracting EFC from COA yields financial need.

If a student’s situation demonstrates financial need, they are eligible for need-based federal student aid programs. Non-need-based aid is determined by calculating a student’s COA and subtracting it from the total financial aid that has been awarded to a student from all sources. A student’s EFC does not influence their non-need-based aid.

How to Accept Loans

After submitting the FAFSA, students receive an award letter from their college that includes the type and amount of financial aid they have been offered and directions to accept the offer. When accepting federal loans, students sign a promissory note that lists the terms and conditions of the loan, including repayment and borrower responsibilities.

Federal loans are typically disbursed multiple times a year at the beginning of each term. The college receives the loan and applies it toward tuition, fees, and room and board for students who live on campus. Students receive any remaining funds electronically or through the mail; this money can be applied toward their living expenses.

Which Aid Should You Accept First?

The following list identifies the order in which students should accept aid. Scholarships and grants are accepted first because they do not require repayment. Next, students should accept work-study assignments that help them earn money. When accepting loans, it is prudent to choose a subsidized federal student loan before an unsubsidized loan; subsidized loans do not accrue interest while borrowers are attending school. Next, students should accept state and college loans, which must be repaid with interest. While state and college loans may have less appealing terms than federal loans, they are typically better than private loans, which should only be accepted as a last resort.

1. Scholarships and grants
2. Work-study jobs
3. Subsidized federal student loans
4. Unsubsidized federal student loans
5. Loans from your state government or your college
6. Private loans

Do You Have to Accept the Full Aid Offered?

Students may receive an aid award that is more than they need. In this case, it is best to only accept the amount of money that is needed. Students can turn down a loan or request a smaller amount. The financial aid award letter provides instructions on how to reject a loan or ask for less. If a loan is accepted and is no longer needed, it can be cancelled prior to being disbursed by notifying the school. A disbursed loan can be cancelled in part or fully during certain time frames.

Paying Your Loans Off

When the time arrives to repay student loans, the full amount can seem overwhelming; however, a variety of repayment plans are available to ease the burden of reimbursement. Prior to beginning repayment, it is important to understand the various paths that students can take toward paying off their debt.

Repayment Plans

From fixed-amount standard repayment plans to income-based repayment plans that consider numerous economic factors, many different repayment options can help alleviate the stress of loan repayment. Students with federal loans have access to a repayment estimator that calculates loan amounts, types, and interest rates to help determine which repayment plan is most appropriate. Students pay their loan servicer, and those with direct loans receive a 0.25% interest rate reduction by signing up for automatic debit. Additionally, federal student loan repayment plans may be changed to better suit a student’s needs. Students who have trouble repaying their loans can choose to change a payment due date, switch to a different repayment plan, or consolidate their loans. The following table provides an overview of the different types of federal aid repayment plans available to students as well as the accompanying eligibility requirements.

Deferment and Forbearance

Eligible students may temporarily receive loan deferment or forbearance. Loan deferment allows students to postpone payments without accruing interest on direct subsidized loans, subsidized federal Stafford loans, Perkins loans, and any subsidized portion of direct consolidated loans. Students who are eligible for loan deferment are still responsible for paying interest that is accrued on direct unsubsidized loans, unsubsidized federal Stafford loans, direct PLUS loans, FFEL PLUS loans, and the unsubsidized portion of direct consolidation loans. Factors that determine loan deferment eligibility include unemployment, economic hardship, serving in the Peace Corps, or active duty military service. Graduate students who attended school half-time when they were awarded a direct PLUS loan or a FFEL PLUS loan are eligible for loan deferment for six months after they drop below half-time enrollment. These requirements are the same for parents who received a direct PLUS loan or a FFEL PLUS loan.

Loan forbearance allows students to temporarily stop making payments or reduce payment amounts; however, forbearance still requires the payment of accrued interest on all types of federal student loans. There are two type of forbearance: general or mandatory. Students can request general forbearance when they are unable to make payments due to financial difficulties. Mandatory forbearance applies to students who are participating in internships or residencies and those with other extenuating circumstances. Students who desire loan deferment or forbearance must submit a request to their loan servicer along with documentation of eligibility requirements. Students enrolled at least half-time in college automatically receive loan deferment. Please review the chart below to determine if your student loans are eligible for deferment.

Standard Repayment Plan

Eligible Loans:

  • Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans
  • Subsidized and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans
  • All PLUS loans
  • All consolidation loans (direct or FFEL)

Payment Time Frame: Students make fixed-amount payments for up to 10 years; payments are made for up to 30 years for consolidation loans.

Graduated Repayment Plan

Eligible Loans:

  • Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans
  • Subsidized and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans
  • All PLUS loans
  • All consolidation loans (direct or FFEL)

Payment Time Frame: Students make payments for up to 10 years and for up to 30 years for consolidation loans; payment amounts start out lower and gradually increase every two years.

Extended Repayment Plan

Eligible Loans:

  • Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans
  • Subsidized and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans
  • All PLUS loans
  • All consolidation loans (direct or FFEL)

Payment Time Frame: Payments are made for up to 25 years and are either fixed or graduated.

Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE)

Eligible Loans:

  • Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans
  • Direct PLUS loans made to students
  • Direct consolidation loans (direct or FFEL) that do not include PLUS loans made to parents

Payment Time Frame: Payments are made for 20 to 25 years. After this time frame, any outstanding balances are forgiven. The payment amount is based on income and family size.

Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE)

Eligible Loans:

  • Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans
  • Direct PLUS loans made to students
  • Direct consolidation loans (direct or FFEL) that do not include PLUS loans made to parents

Payment Time Frame: Payments are made for up to 20 years, and any remaining balance after this time frame is forgiven.

Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR)

Eligible Loans:

  • Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans
  • Subsidized and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans
  • All PLUS loans made to students
  • Consolidation loans (direct or FFEL) that do not include direct or FFEL PLUS loans made to parents

Payment Time Frame: Payments are made for 20 to 25 years. After this time frame, any outstanding balances are forgiven. Monthly payments are 10-15% of household income.

Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR)

Eligible Loans:

  • Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans
  • Direct PLUS loans made to students
  • Direct consolidation loans

Payment Time Frame: Payments are made for up to 25 years and are either 20% of income or follow a fixed, 12-year, income-based repayment plan. After 25 years, any remaining balance is forgiven.

Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan

Eligible Loans:

  • Subsidized and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans
  • FFEL PLUS loans
  • FFEL consolidation loans

Payment Time Frame: Payments are income-based and are made over the course of 15 years.

Source: FinAid

Deferment and Forbearance

Eligible students may temporarily receive loan deferment or forbearance. Loan deferment allows students to postpone payments without accruing interest on direct subsidized loans, subsidized federal Stafford loans, Perkins loans, and any subsidized portion of direct consolidated loans. Students who are eligible for loan deferment are still responsible for paying interest that is accrued on direct unsubsidized loans, unsubsidized federal Stafford loans, direct PLUS loans, FFEL PLUS loans, and the unsubsidized portion of direct consolidation loans. Factors that determine loan deferment eligibility include unemployment, economic hardship, serving in the Peace Corps, or active duty military service. Graduate students who attended school half-time when they were awarded a direct PLUS loan or a FFEL PLUS loan are eligible for loan deferment for six months after they drop below half-time enrollment. These requirements are the same for parents who received a direct PLUS loan or a FFEL PLUS loan.

Loan forbearance allows students to temporarily stop making payments or reduce payment amounts; however, forbearance still requires the payment of accrued interest on all types of federal student loans. There are two type of forbearance: general or mandatory. Students can request general forbearance when they are unable to make payments due to financial difficulties. Mandatory forbearance applies to students who are participating in internships or residencies and those with other extenuating circumstances. Students who desire loan deferment or forbearance must submit a request to their loan servicer along with documentation of eligibility requirements. Students enrolled at least half-time in college automatically receive loan deferment. Please review the chart below to determine if your student loans are eligible for deferment.

Types of loans that can be deferred

Type of Loan Can It Be Deferred? (Yes/No)
Direct Subsidized Loans Yes
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Yes
Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans Yes
Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans Yes
Direct PLUS Loans Yes
Federal Perkins Loans Yes
FFEL PLUS Loans Yes
The Subsidized Portion of Direct Consolidation Loans Yes
The Unsubsidized Portion of Direct Consolidation Loans Yes
The Subsidized Portion of FFEL Consolidation Loans Yes
The Unsubsidized Portion of FFEL Consolidation Loans Yes

Loan Forgiveness

Although students are required to repay their loans, regardless of whether or not they complete their education or establish a career in their field of study, there are circumstances in which loan forgiveness or cancellation can occur. Loan forgiveness is an incentive that encourages employment in typically low-paying areas where individuals work with disadvantaged populations. Students who qualify for loan forgiveness are no longer responsible for repayment. Full-time employees of public service jobs and teachers at public or nonprofit schools may be eligible for loan forgiveness. Other common careers that can lead to loan forgiveness and cancellation include full-time employment as firefighters, law enforcement and corrections officers, nurses, medical technicians, public defense attorneys, child care providers, librarians working in Title 1 schools, and speech pathologists working in Title 1 schools.

Borrowers employed in one of these areas may be eligible for 100% loan forgiveness. Additionally, students who serve in the U.S. armed forces in imminent danger areas and VISTA or Peace Corps volunteers may qualify for complete loan forgiveness. Eligible students apply for loan forgiveness with their loan servicer and must make 120 monthly payments in order for their remaining payments to be absolved. The following chart highlights three common types of employment that lead to loan forgiveness.

Public Service

Types of Loans Eligible

  • Direct loans
  • FFEL program loans and Perkins loans may be eligible after loan consolidation

Conditions for Forgiveness
Borrowers may receive public service loan forgiveness if they are full-time employees with a government or nonprofit organization or are full-time volunteers with AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps. Borrowers must make 120 monthly payments toward their loans while they are employed full-time.

Amount Forgiven (%)
The remaining amount of loans after making 120 qualifying monthly payments is forgiven.

Teachers

Types of Loans Eligible

  • Teacher loan forgiveness for direct loans
  • Teacher cancellation for Perkins loans

Conditions for Forgiveness
Borrowers who qualify for teacher loan forgiveness must be full-time teachers for five academic years at a Title 1 school; at least one of those years must be after the 1997–98 academic year. Borrowers who qualify for teacher cancellation must work full-time for at least one year in a public or nonprofit elementary or secondary school.

Amount Forgiven (%)
Up to $17,500 on direct loans and up to 100% of Perkins loans may be forgiven.

Nurses

Types of Loans Eligible

  • Perkins loans

Conditions for Forgiveness
Full-time employment as a nurse is required.

Amount Forgiven (%)
Up to 100% of loan amounts may be forgiven.

Discharge of Loans

A loan discharge releases students from the obligation of loan repayment. In contrast to loan forgiveness, which emphasizes public service, a loan discharge occurs when a student experiences a negative life event, such as permanent disability, bankruptcy, or false certification caused by school error or identify theft. To apply for a loan discharge, students must contact their servicer and submit the appropriate documentation related to their situation. Students should continue making payments while their application is being processed. If students have direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, federal subsidized Stafford loans, or federal unsubsidized Stafford loans, they may seek loan forbearance.

Students who qualify for a loan discharge may be refunded previous payments, and defaulted loans will be erased along with any harmful credit records caused by the default. Situations that have the potential for 100% cancellation of student loans include permanent disability, bankruptcy, and the closing of a school while a student is enrolled. If a student’s application for a loan discharge is denied, it cannot be appealed except in instances of false certification or forged signature discharges. In these cases, students can ask the U.S. Department of Education to review their application. The following table provides an overview of loan discharge types and eligibility requirements.

Delinquency and Default

Unless a student’s loans are eligible for loan forgiveness or discharge, the loans must be repaid. If loans are ignored, they go into default. This occurs when students fail to uphold the terms of their promissory notes and do not make payments on their federal student loans for more than 270 days. Federal Perkins loans go into default if a payment is not received by the due date. Delinquency occurs when loan payments are made past the due date. Loans remain delinquent until the past due amount is paid or other payment arrangements have been made. If payments are missed, students should immediately discuss alternative payment options with their loan service provider. There are several proactive measures that prevent loans from becoming delinquent or defaulted. Students improve their ability to repay their loans promptly by understanding loan agreements, borrowing only what is needed, making a budget, tracking loans online, and keeping a file of loan documents.

If students default, they are no longer eligible for deferment, forbearance, different payment plans, or additional federal student aid

If students default, they are no longer eligible for deferment, forbearance, different payment plans, or additional federal student aid. Their credit scores will also drop, the government may withhold tax refunds, and their school could withhold their transcripts. Fortunately, students can address their defaulted loans by immediately contacting the organization that informed them of their loans’ defaulted status. Students can arrange a repayment plan, such as loan rehabilitation or loan consolidation.

Resources

Careeronestop.org

Careeronestop offers career and training resources for people of all ages, including young adults and professionals changing their careers. The website includes a database of more than 7,500 scholarship, grant, and financial aid opportunities.

Collegedata.com

College Data provides an overview of many common ways students pay for college. The website offers tips for reducing college expenses and features a net price calculator to help students determine the cost of attending college.

Collegegrant.net

College Grant is a grant database that connects students with numerous grants and financial gift opportunities, including government grants, field of study grants, and grants for low-income and first-generation students.

Collegescholarships.org

College Scholarships features a scholarship and grant search engine as well as a detailed guide to help students choose the right student loans for them. The website provides information on federal, state, and private loans.

Consumerfinance.gov

Consumer Finance connects readers with a variety of consumer tools. Powered by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the website includes student financial aid guides and a financial aid shopping spreadsheet.

Credible.com

Credible is a private loan search engine that allows students to compare private student loan offers. The website also offers private loan refinancing solutions and information on eligibility requirements.

Debt.org

Debt is a public service organization that helps people of all ages become debt-free. The website provides students with access to numerous tools designed to help manage student debt.

Educationconnection.com

Education Connection connects students with degree programs that fit their personal and professional goals. The website offers a comprehensive education success kit that provides overviews of admission processes, financial aid, and study tips.

Edvisors.com

Edvisors provides readers with information on the FAFSA, scholarships, private student loans, financial aid, and loan repayment. The website features a student loan checklist that helps students organize their loans and keep track of payments.

Fafsa.ed.gov

The FAFSA portal provides students with online access to the FAFSA form. Students may start a new FAFSA, make corrections or add schools to an existing FAFSA, and view their Student Aid Report.

Fed-help.org

Fed-Help is an organization that assists students with loan forgiveness. The organization helps students select federal consolidation loan programs and submit the required paperwork to the Department of Education.

Finaid.org

FinAid is a public service website that provides its viewers with information about loans, scholarships, military aid, and savings opportunities. Finaid.org has a variety of cost calculators, ranging from needs analysis to loan term conversion.

Govloans.gov

Gov Loans provides overviews of all educational loans offered through the government, including the federal Perkins loan program and direct PLUS loans.

Moneygeek.com

Money Geek helps people make smart financial decisions. The website provides an overview of student loans and includes information on federal student loan types, application processes, and career-specific student loans.

Nytimes.com

The New York Times features a beginner’s guide to repaying student loans that outlines the process of loan repayment. The website also includes a student loan calculator that allows students to compare tuition rates.

Scholarshipowl.com

Scholarship Owl helps students find scholarships that match their academic goals. The website provides a variety of services, including tips for writing scholarship essays, free financial aid consultation, and automatic application resubmissions for recurring scholarships.

Simpletuition.com

Simple Tuition addresses numerous topics related to college loans, including student loan deferment. The website reviews the pros and cons of deferring student loans along with general requirements for deferment.

Studentaid.ed.gov

StudentAid is the official website for the U.S. Department of Education’s federal student loan programs. Students have access to financial aid topics, including an overview of federal student loan programs and frequently asked questions.

Studentloanhero.com

Student Loan Hero offers a variety of student loan repayment resources, including monthly payment and income-based repayment calculators. The website also has guidelines for choosing the best private student loans.

Tg.org

TG is a nonprofit corporation that assists students with loan repayment. Students have access to information about student loans, smart borrowing tips, and repayment resources.

Theloanforme.com

The Loan For Me provides guidelines for choosing a lender and includes information on fixed and variable interest rates, annual percentage rates, and questions to consider when choosing a private student loan.