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Whether you are an aspiring college or grad school student, or the parent of one, understanding the ins and outs of student loans is critical as you consider how to fund the cost of higher education.
As their name implies, student loans are designed specifically for education funding. There are two broad categories of college loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. Please keep in mind that if you're offered an aid package by a college that includes loans, you need to consider whether repaying those loans will create an excessive financial strain for you or your family, depending on who will do the borrowing.
Families who can demonstrate financial need may be eligible for subsidized student loans, which typically offer a lower interest rate than other college loans. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form is used to assess need; and that application may also help you qualify for other types of financial aid, such as grants and on-campus student work.
Been awarded a subsidized loan? Consider accepting it first because it offers more benefits: Students don't have to make principal payments until they leave school, and the government pays the interest while students are in college, offsetting some of the cost.
If you need help paying for college and your family doesn't qualify for subsidized loans, here are some valuable alternatives.
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