If you are attending a private university or going to graduate school, you may need to take out private student loans. Your financial aid office can suggest some companies that offer this kind of service.
The terms of a private student loan are different from the terms of a federal student loan. Interest rates on private student loans are higher, and the repayment requirements are also stricter. You are granted private student loans based on your credit score, which means you may need a co-signer if you do not have a credit history.
It is important to find the best private student loans available. When you apply for the loan look for key factors, like a low interest rate. Often the interest rates on private student loans are variable, which means they will go up (or down) as the market changes. If you find a lender that offers to lock in an affordable rate, consider taking advantage of it.
Another important factor when deciding which institution to obtain a private student loan from is researching lenders who are known for their customer service and who are easy to contact should you have an urgent question. Finally, identify repayment terms that you can handle. Some private student loans require you to start making payments as soon as you get the funds disbursed, while others may let you hold off on repaying the loan until after you graduate.
It can be difficult to qualify for private student loans without co-signer assistance. Since the federal government does not back these loans, lenders are more reluctant to just loan money to students who have not established a credit history or a solid job history.
It is possible to qualify without a co-signer, however, but you may pay a higher interest rate and may not be able to borrow as much as you would like. You can establish a credit history by opening a revolving line of credit, such as a credit card, or taking out a car loan. If you are returning to school after working, you may have an easier time qualifying for private student loans.
You can save money with private student loan consolidation. When you consolidate your loans, you can often lock in a lower fixed interest rate in the process. You may also be able to extend the term of the loan, which lowers your monthly payment. However, you never want to consolidate your federal student loans into a private student loan company; this will cause you to lose the benefits that federal student loans provide.
Your original lender may offer you a private student loan consolidation option or you may be contacted by other lenders. When you consolidate private student loans, you need to be sure that the bank you are working with is legitimate. It can also take more than a month to process consolidation paperwork for some of these loans, which makes it important to check in on the status of your application, and keep in good standings on private student loan payments until your consolidation approval is official.