This post is brought to you by our partner, LeverEdge. Their organization works with families to get the best loans through collective bargaining. To join their initiative for free, follow the link above.
When I got into Harvard Business School, I realized what a nightmare student loans truly were; the whole student loan process was stressful and overwhelming to say the least.
For many getting started, it’s easy to assume that the default lender presented to you is the best. It’s not worth risking that assumption. I’m writing this post to encourage you to weigh all of your options.
Federal Loans are Usually the Best Route for Undergraduate Students
Before you do anything, you should consider filling out the FAFSA first to see what the federal government will offer you.
For undergraduate students, the federal loans provided typically have a better rate than anything on the private market, and they have better perks like eligibility for forgiveness and income-based repayments.
There is a cap for how much you can borrow from the federal government, though, and nearly a million people hit that each year. In those cases, families often mistakenly turn to Parent PLUS loans when there are better options out there.
Good Credit or Graduate Student? Evaluate Private Loans.
The private market excels in providing very competitive rates to “less risky” people – that is to say, people with a good credit score or graduate students.
If you’ve got good credit (650+), then you should at the very least shop around to see what sort of rates you might get.
If you’re a graduate student, the interest rate on federal grad plus loans last year was ~ 7.5% versus ~ 5% in the private market. That’s the difference between thousands of dollars at the end of the day! Please, please do not leave money on the table.
Make Lenders Compete
If you have decided that you’re interested in potentially taking a private loan (and benefiting from the lower rates), there’s one more step: make the lenders compete for your business. Easier said than done, right?
But there’s actually a simple way to do it.
By adding your voice to a group negotiation pool, you’ll be able to get the best rates among all competing private lenders. LeverEdge is the first organization that has harnessed the power of collective bargaining to force lenders to give groups of students the best rates. And it is completely free. When you join, the application process only collects basic information (no credit checks or SSN required), and there’s no obligation to actually take the negotiated deal.
For a more thorough exploration of student loans and what LeverEdge does, please consider joining The College Funding Coach and LeverEdge for a collaborative webinar on June 3rd. Click here for more info.