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Student Loans and Debt Management


Need-based, fixed interest loans originate from a variety of sources, including US Federal Government Loans, as well as debt management tools. Loan calculators, repayment options, loan forgiveness, and default ramifications need to be considered carefully before you saddle yourself with a large amount of student debt. Short-term loans may bridge the gap between starting school and financial aid disbursement dates. Be aware that there are variable interest rates, and stiff penalties to pay if you fall behind on your loan repayment schedule.

Federal Direct Student Loans, also known as Direct Loans or FDLP loans, are funded from the US Treasury, while private student loans are additional student debt that is not guaranteed, and is offered directly by banks, credit unions, or a finance companies. When Federal student loans enter the repayment period, a borrower usually has up to 10 years to repay the total amount of student debt. While federal student loans can be dismissed for permanent disability, private student loans cannot be discharged outside of bankruptcy proceedings. The best financial aid plan is to aggressively pursue scholarships, and grant funding where available, combined with parental savings.

Private loan programs issue loans based on the credit history of the applicant and any available cosigners. This contrasts with federal loan programs which focus on need-based criteria that is specified in the FAFSA. Moreover, private student loans have variable interest rates while federal loans generally have fixed rates. Loan applicants must be aware that private loans may require large up-front origination fees. Origination fees are a one-time charge based on the amount of the loan. Private loans are therefore higher-cost than federal student loans, and are to be used when students have exhausted the borrowing limits under federal student loan programs. Many private loans are pegged to one or more monetary indexes, such as the Wall Street Journal Prime rate, or the BBA LIBOR rate, plus an overhead charge.

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