A student loan is a loan that is granted to a college student enrolled in courses full or part time for at least one semester or quarter and who have declared a major with the intent of pursuing a degree of higher education. Student loans can be granted through various lenders with a governmental guarantee, or can be granted from private lenders with no guarantee. Some student loans do not require a parent''s signature, while others do. The government guaranteed student loan is classified by two types, subsidized and unsubsidized.
The subsidized student loans have a yearly limit and allow for the government to pay the interest on the loan while the student is in school. The unsubsidized student loan allows for a higher yearly limit, but the student must pay the interest while in school, or the accrued interest will be added onto the balance of the loan and is the responsibility of the student during repayment. A student loan can be deferred while the student is in school half time indefinitely. Private student loans usually have a set period of deferment, 2-5 years, and then the student must begin repayment regardless of whether or not they have completed their education.
Currently, student loans have the best interest rates in town. As the interest rate index rises, so will the student loan rate. During low rate times, many scramble to consolidate their student loans. This saves a tremendous amount of interest in the long run, since a student loan repayment plan can extend over 25 years depending on the loan balance.
Those students with an extremely low student loan balance ($5,000 or less) usually only have the typical 5 or 10 year repayment option. A student loan is eligible to be used for tuition, books, on campus housing and childcare expenses. Some student loans allow for the purchase of an automobile to get to and from school, or other pertinent school materials such as a computer or to pay off other student loan debt.
Many students today are counting on student loans for their education. What they are not realizing when they sign the student loan promissory note is the debt they are incurring for a very long time after their schooling has been completed. The average student loan balance is upwards of $50,000 for a four year degree. Add to that professional education costs, and some students will have over $150,000 in student loan debt. While the investment of an education is always a wise idea because investing in one''s mind will never diminish in value, the costs associated with this investment and the income expected to earn should be carefully evaluated. Some careers do not warrant a high enough salary to repay the loans. Grants and scholarships should always be considered as alternatives to obtaining student loan debt.