Know your Loans

With financial aid packages now being awarded, students should feel obligated to know what they are signing.

With the University of Minnesota on the verge of finalizing summer and fall financial aid packages, many students at the University of Minnesota are confused with the information regarding all the different federal loan types available. Some simply do not care âÄî often leading to an ill-informed choice when signing. The first resource students should actively pursue is One Stop, as the institution has tools such as the loan comparison chart that ease student loan decisions. This tool can be found directly on the One Stop website and compares loans side-by-side for students to fully evaluate their options before accepting any. Since a large number of students receive the bulk of their aid from federal student loans, knowing the differences between them is essential in making an educated financial choice. One of the most popular and biggest loans a student can be awarded is the Minnesota SELF Loan. The SELF Loan awards up to $7,500 in loans to students per year, requiring them to pay quarterly interest while in school. This prevents negative amortization, or the increasing of the final loan balance due to deferred interest. Although it is need-based, the Federal Perkins Loan is also an attractive choice for students who are applicable for it. Interest does not accrue while in school, which is especially enticing for any potential borrower. But what is even more enticing is that when one graduates, the student only pays 5 percent APR. More common is the Federal Ford Direct Loan. The loan comes in two flavors: one that is need-based and is subsidized by the federal government and one that is not need-based and unsubsidized. Although slightly higher than the Perkins Loan, the Ford Direct Loan offers substantially lower APR after graduation than many private student loan options. This is the tip of the iceberg. Go out and learn what you will be accepting next year.