What are Education Loans?
Education loans provide a way to finance an individual's education. These programs provide a financial boost to covering tuition, fees, and other educational expenses. Some programs are available to most students like the Perkins loan program or the Stafford loans. Other programs focus on providing educational funding for specific educational concentrations to ensure there are enough trained specialists available to cover needs. Most of the general programs require a student or his parents to take a loan out and repay it according to normal lending terms. There are programs which require a commitment to work in a specific field in order to receive funds to repay existing student loans. These programs allow students the chance to earn a higher education.
Types of Education Loans
The education loans and programs provided through direct or indirect funding of the federal government come in two general categories. The first are the actual loans themselves. The second is programs that give students the ability to repay existing loans by providing certain services in the public sector. One of the best-known loan programs is the Stafford Loans for Students program. This program provides loans to students directly through the US Department of Education. Students with a demonstrated financial need qualify for subsidized student loans with unsubsidized loans available to others. The big difference is that a subsidized loan's interest remains deferred until the student completes education or stops being a full time student. The unsubsidized loan has no deferment period.
The Federal Perkins Loan Program is only available to students with a demonstrated financial need. Each university has only a certain amount of funding available for these loans. The financial aid office determines how much each student receives based on the student's economic situation and the other aid which is available. For parents who need help in financing a child's education, the PLUS Parent Loan program is an option. This program offers parents the option of borrowing funds to pay for tuition, fees, and room and board for their child. These loan programs place the repayment on the parents instead of the child.
The federal government also has programs in place to help graduate repay a certain part of their educational debt through public service in various forms. One example of this is the Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program. This program offers help with repaying education debt for those who agree to provide health care services for Native Americans in certain locations. This program is open to students or graduates in family medicine, dentistry, nursing, internal medicine, geriatric medicine, or psychiatry. The student agrees to provide services for a designated amount of time as part of this program.
How to Apply for Education Loans
All education loan programs require applicants to fill out the Free Application for Student Financial Aid, known as FAFSA. The FAFSA is the central application form for all education loans and grants in the United States. Colleges, universities, trade schools, and other educational entities use the FAFSA to determine the amount of financial aid a student may receive. Financial aid comes in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans. This central application form allows for a standardized method for determining eligibility for a variety of programs at the federal as well as state level.
A student can fill out the FAFSA or work through their college or university's financial aid office to do so. The information required for the application can be quite comprehensive. The student will need to provide full contact information, identification, financial data, and education plans. If the student is living with parents, the parents also need to provide financial information. All of this information comes together to determine how much the student or family need to provide to the education costs and how much aid is available. From that amount, the amount of education loans comes out.
For students that have a financial need, the education loans available will likely be a Federal Perkins loan or a Federal Direct loan. These loans go directly to the institution of higher learning for application towards tuition and other education costs. Any left over then go to the student for other housing and living costs related to education. For students who do not have a full financial need, the loan is likely an unsubsidized Stafford loan. Again, these funds go to the financial aid office first, then to the student. A PLUS Parent Loan works a bit differently. The funds go to the financial aid office, and then the proceeds go to the parents, not the student. The parents can designate the fund for the students, but it is not a requirement.
Education repayment programs work a bit differently than the education loans programs. Each application must go through the agency responsible for the program. The National Institutes of Health run many of these programs. The first step is to verify that the applicant is eligible for the program. That means having appropriate educational background and qualifying educational debt. In order to qualify, the educational debt must be outstanding and must come from a US government entity, academic institution, or a US commercial lending institution. Loans from family members or from home equity do not count.
The application process requires providing education and employment information. The application also requires a declaration of research intent as well as a full biographical sketch to show education qualifications. The research candidate needs to provide information and recommendations from their supervisor or mentor in the process. All of this information goes to the NIH or similar agency to see if the person qualifies for the program. The research outline also goes through a review to make sure it is scientifically relevant. With that information, the agency can determine eligibility.
All loan programs require due diligence on the part of the student and the parents. It is important to take enough money to meet tuition and other essential expenses. However, it is also important to consider future financial requirements in determining educational pursuits and obligations.
For more information on these education loans and programs, visit the following websites:
Grant Application Guides and Resources
It is always free to apply for government grants. However the process may be very complex depending on the funding opportunity you are applying for. Below are some of the published guides that have been helpful to past recipients: