Many students find that they need to borrow money to cover college costs. Luckily, student loans often provide good deals, and financial aid officers can help with this process. Here are a few things to do when applying for a student loan

  1. Compare financial aid offers

You’ll have a lot of decisions to make once you get your financial aid award letters. Assess your financial aid packages by comparing offers and reading the fine print.

  1. Borrow only what you need

To figure out how much money you may need to borrow, look at a college’s cost, your cost of living, your family’s contribution and your financial aid award. You don’t have to accept the entire amount of a loan you’re offered.

  1. Consider working part-time

You won’t need to borrow as much if you have a part-time job to cover some of your expenses. You may even qualify for a work-study program at your college.

  1. Ask questions and follow instructions

If you have any questions about how a federal loan works, don’t be afraid to contact a financial aid officer to get answers. Also, make sure you know the rules and requirements for applying for federal loans. Funds can be limited, so make sure to apply by the deadline.

  1. Shop around for private loans

If you feel you need to borrow more to cover your costs, ask your financial aid officer for advice. If you decide to take a private (or alternative) loan, compare interest rates, fees and repayment options carefully. Your college may recommend certain lenders, but you don’t have to use them.

  1. Be clear on what you’re signing

To make sure you understand a loan’s terms, conditions and repayment requirements, ask your financial aid officer questions like these:

  • How much will this loan cost in total?
  • What will my monthly payments be?
  • Is the interest rate fixed or variable?
  • Can I get a lower interest rate?
  •  What fees do I have to pay?