Wealth and Finance

Student Loans Are More Accessible than Ever

Student loan applications are simpler than ever, thanks to an easy-to-use online application process. The first step to completing your student loan application is to fill out the Federal Application For Student Aid, otherwise known as the FASA. This can be done quickly and painlessly by going to the FASA website and following the prompts. Make sure to have your driver’s license, social security number, and a copy of your latest income tax forms, as you will need them. You will also need the FASA code for the school you will be attending, but this can be found easily on the FASA website.

Approximately three weeks after completing your FASA, you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) in the mail, which will detail what type of federal aid you qualify for. Two weeks after receiving your SAR, you should get an awards letter from your school, detailing what kind of federal loans, scholarships, awards, work-study, or other student aid is available to you. Once you’ve selected the financial aid you want and returned your award letter to the school, you’re ready to apply for your student aid.

The major bulk of student aid comes in the form of Stafford Loans. These are loans that are provided by the federal government, for students trying to pursue a higher education. Stafford Loans generally come in two forms. The first (and most recommended) form of Stafford Loans are known as subsidized Stafford Loans. These loans are for students who demonstrate obvious financial need for funding their education. The great thing about a subsidized Stafford Loan is that the U.S. Department of Education pays any interest that accrues while the student is in school, and again during the loan deferment period that occurs for the first few months after the student graduates. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are much the same, only the student is responsible for paying all interest on the loan that accrues while he or she is in school. In almost every case, a student will receive a portion of their federal student aid in subsidized Stafford Loans, and another portion in unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

Once you know which Stafford Loans you want, it’s time to choose a lender. I highly recommend the site Simple Tuition, because it’s quick, easy to use, and has a great feature where it actually compiles potential lenders into a side-by-side spreadsheet, where you can easily compare interest rates, terms of loans, overall costs of the loans, minimum monthly payments required, the security level of the loan, and all the other information you should compare in order to find the best lender for your needs. Once you’ve selected a lender, the website will automatically direct you to that institution’s loan application and you can get started applying for your loan. All Stafford Loans are sent directly from the lender to the school, where it will be directly applied to your account.