(StatePoint) While the majority of parents today strongly value higher education, that doesn’t always alleviate their sticker shock when it comes to college-related costs.
A new College Ave survey finds that 91% of parents believe a college degree is important for their child’s future. At the same time, 74% of parents found the cost of college surprisingly high. From having their children kick in -- 46% of parents strongly believe their children should financially contribute to their education -- to borrowing -- 16% currently or plan to take out private student loans -- many families explore a range of avenues for funding college.
“If you’ll be using private student loans to fund college, it’s important to create a budget and do your research,” says Angela Colatriano, chief marketing officer at College Ave Student Loans. “Having a plan can help you avoid surprises down the line and reduce the overall cost of your loan.”
Before even considering private student loans, Colatriano notes that it’s essential to apply for scholarships and to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at FAFSA.gov to determine your child’s eligibility for certain scholarships, grants, work-study, and federal student loans. You should also explore cost-saving housing options and ways to spend less on school supplies, such as buying used textbooks.
If federal student loans don’t cover your remaining costs, shop around to find the right private student loan, advises Colatriano. Here are four factors to consider when comparing loan options:
1. Competitive rates: Securing a lower interest rate can help you land lower monthly payments and pay less interest over the life of your loan. To get a sense of the overall cost of the loan and your monthly loan payments, use the student loan calculator at CollegeAve.com.
2. Flexible loan terms: Find a student loan with a variety of repayment options. Some lenders, like College Ave, let you choose how long you want to repay your loan, and whether to start making payments right away or defer until after graduation. The important thing is to select a loan with terms that fit your budget.
3. Fees: Private student loans don’t typically have origination fees, but you should still take time to check. You should also make sure your loans don’t have any prepayment penalties.
4. Positive company reviews: Only work with a reputable, honest company. Check the Better Business Bureau for accreditation and read reviews to learn about customer experiences and see each company’s customer ratings.
Wondering how much to borrow? “A good rule of thumb is to figure out what your student’s expected annual salary after graduation will be and then try to keep your total borrowing below that amount,” says Colatriano. “For parents with strong credit who want to take on the debt alone, parent loans can be a good choice.”
For competitive rates, flexible loan terms and great customer service, check out specialists in the industry with College Ave Student Loans. The lender offers private student loans and parent loans, and its simple 3-minute application can quickly determine your eligibility, helping your family breathe easy from day one of the process.
Bottom line? Being a strategic borrower and finding a simple loan experience can help your family get on with what matters most: preparing for a bright future.
Photo Credit: (c) Nuthawut Somsuk / iStock via Getty Images Plus