Federal School Loans vs. Private Loans – Which is Better?
Most people need some sort of outside funding to help pay for their college education. When looking for student loans, you have two choices. You can apply for federal loans which are backed by the government or you can seek money from a private lender.
Each method comes with benefits and drawbacks, so it’s hard to say which one is better. This article will explain the benefits of each and help you decide which is right for you.
Federal School Loans
Federal school loans are government regulated. This means that the lenders have to abide by strict rules when it comes to repayment terms on your loans.
For example, interest rates on federal school loans are set at a ceiling by the government and the lender cannot exceed that rate. They can go lower than that, and in some cases they do in order to stay competitive with other lenders, but they must stay below the max. This is good for the borrower because when they take out a federal loan they know what to expect with their interest rate.
Federal loans are typically fixed rates as well, which means the interest rate is set at a specific percentage and won’t change for the entire life of the loan. Fixed rates mean there won’t be any surprises in your payments from month to month. They should be almost exactly the same each month.
The interest you pay on your loans each year on federal loans is tax deductible, too. If you owe a lot of money, you can claim a nice chunk of your payments as deductions.
One final advantage of federal school loans is the flexibility of repayment you’re allowed. If you’d like you can arrange for your loan to be a 10, 20, or even 30 year loan, which will lower your monthly payments and make them more affordable.
Private School Loans
Perhaps the best part of private school loans is the ability to apply for one whenever the need arises. With federal loans you have to fill out the required paperwork ahead of deadlines in order to receive a loan for a given semester. When requesting private loans you can apply at any time.
Another great thing about private loans is they can be used for fringe school expenses, such as books and transportation. Federal loans must be applied to specific expenses, such as tuition and room and board, but private loans can be used for just about anything not covered by federal loans.
Private loans are not need-based, either. This means that no matter your or your parent’s financial situation, you are eligible for private loans. Financial aid and many federal loans consider your financial need before you receive money, and sometimes the amount is reflective of your need. Private loans, on the other hand, will give you the amount you request, provided you meet their credit check criteria.
Which is Better?
Which type of loan is better depends entirely on your personal situation, however, knowing the facts will help you make the best choice for you. This article addresses some of those facts but be sure to discuss the options with your school financial aid office as well.