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Student Loan Law Series: Types of Student Loans

Student loans are a hot topic in the news today, with more and more students across the country coming out of school with a significant amount of debt. In order to better understand the process, it is important to be familiar with the type of loans you have taken out. Federal loans and private loans are the two major types of loans students take out.

Federal student loans are guaranteed by the Federal Department of Education. They include Stafford loans, PLUS loans, and Perkins Loans. Stafford loans can be offered as either subsidized or unsubsidized loans and offerings range significantly dependent on whether the student is a dependent or independent. PLUS loans are credit based and offered to parents of undergraduate students and directly to graduate students. Perkins loans are reserved for those students with exceptional financial need and are administered through the school. With federal student loans, repayment options are given to students so they can either pay over a shorter or longer period of time. Loan consolidation is possible with federal loans and grace periods are given up to 9 months after graduation, dependent on the loan type.

Private student loans are those loans which are not granted by the federal or state government. They are not guaranteed by the Department of Education, though many are insured. Unlike with federal loans, there are little to no repayment options so one is often expected to make payments on the timeline decided by the private lender. An indication that a loan is private is if the student needed a co-signer to take out the loan, due to the fact that federal student loans do not require one.

As one can easily see, there are significant differences when comparing different types of student loans. It is important for students to be aware of the type of loan they have taken out in order to be knowledgeable on their options and know what to expect upon repayment time. If you are still unsure, a free and easy way to check if your loan is private or federal is sign up for NSLDS at www.nslds.ed.gov in order to find out.  Contacting a knowledgable attorney is a great way to sort through student loan debt and figure out the best options for you. 

Works Cited

Cohen, Joshua R.I. Student Loan Law Workshop. Law Office of Joshua R.I. Cohen, LLC, 20 Apr. 2013.

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