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Borrowing Outside Federal Loan Programs

More than 90% of student loans are federal loans, and with good reason: the federal student loan programs are broadly accessible and have a range of borrower protections. However, some borrowers choose private student loans either to borrow or to refinance. A smaller share of families use non-education loans such as home equity lines or 401k loans to pay for…

Loans: Many Choices

Families who borrow for college have a lot of choices: federal or private student loans, personal loans, home equity loans, 401k loans… How do you decide? Let’s look at pros and cons of some of these, starting with the federal loan programs. Federal direct loans– whether student or parent loans– have a number of benefits: Fixed interest rates Income-driven repayment…

It’s Never Too Late to Start Saving

Savings creates choices. When it comes to college, more savings means more choices: if you can spend $25,000 annually from savings for four years, your student will have a wider range of choices than if you can only spend $10,000 annually from savings. You’ll have good choices at both of those price points, but students with more savings will (almost…

Mythbusters: Merit Aid

Cozy Wittman of College Inside Track and I played Mythbusters about merit aid. Listen to my latest podcast episode to get the full scoop on who gets merit awards, where and why. Families just starting the college search process won’t want to miss Cozy’s detailed and engaging explanation of how merit works and how you can work the system to…

Living With Student Loans

As a high school guidance counselor, John McMichael has a lot of conversations with students about borrowing for college. That’s in no small part because about two decades into his career, he’s still paying off his own student loans. His experience with student loans is instructive: how not planning for college costs led to borrowing, graduate school’s impact on his…