Most students and their parents worry about how to pay for college. Athletic scholarships are an option for some athletes, but most college athletes will not be able to pay for their whole education with them.
Because many colleges offer financial aid – some based on need, some on academic merit and some on athletic ability – don't assume that you can’t afford a specific college until you know what aid package they will offer. Colleges have calculators on their websites that will help you estimate how much financial aid students like you generally receive.
If you use loans to pay for part of your education, it’s important to understand how they work. When you receive a loan, you (or your parents) are promising to pay the money back. You need to understand how much interest you will pay, when repayment will begin and end, and how much your monthly payments will be.
There are three basic types of student loans available:
The Stafford Loan
The Stafford Loan requires no collateral, has a low interest rate, and must be repaid beginning six months after graduation for students attending school at least half time. The amount you may borrow increases from your freshman to your senior year. In many cases, the Stafford Loan can be subsidized based on financial need, meaning that interest will not start accumulating until six months after you graduate. Stafford Loans are designed for students who cannot cover all of their expenses during college and will likely gain employment upon graduation.
The Perkins Loan
The Perkins Loan is based entirely on financial need. There are maximum amounts a student can borrow for undergraduate and for graduate school. These loans have low interest rates and do not require payments until nine months after you graduate.
The PLUS Loan
The PLUS Loan (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) is offered to parents of dependent students who require financial assistance. The interest rate is low, and repayment begins 60 days after the final loan payment, though in some cases it can be deferred.
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