Many students are opting to continue their education past their bachelor’s degree. Just like starting your undergrad, one of the first things you look at is the cost. Figuring out how you are going to pay for grad school or beyond can be a challenge in itself. Since many state and federal grants can’t be used once you are going for your master’s degree, you may still find yourself coming up short when it comes to paying for college. Even federal student loans might not be enough to cover your costs. That is where private graduate student loans can come in handy.
First Time with Loans
One thing to remember is that once you have earned a bachelor’s degree, you are no longer eligible for the federal Pell Grant. If you were a student that used the Pell Grant for most; if not all, of your tuition costs during your undergrad, you may be in for a bit of sticker shock when you start looking at your cost of school. That is where understanding the different “costs” of school and how your loans are affected by them is important.
Just like in your undergrad, you have a cost of attendance. This is the total amount of direct and indirect costs. Direct costs are things that you are directly billed for where indirect costs are things like living expenses and transportation. With the higher direct cost of grad school, this means that the cost of attendance will be greater as well. Make sure you meet with your financial aid or bursar office to find out your direct cost and total cost of attendance, as this will help you be able to budget accordingly. Your total amount of loans; both federal and private, can’t pass your cost of attendance so you have to make sure you know those limits.
Already Have Student loans
If you already have student loans from your undergrad, you will probably already be aware of out of pocket expenses and what they mean. For you; though, there are different things you need to be aware of.
One, understand your repayment terms on your previous student loans. No one likes bad surprises and finding out that you should have been paying on loans from your undergrad while you are in grad school would be a terrible surprise! Contact your lender to find out if you can defer your payments or pay less while you are school.
Second, make sure you check with your financial aid office to find out if you are at your limit in federal student loans. The Department of Education does set a total lifetime limit in how much you can have out in federal student loans. You want to know well before classes start if you are close to or at that limit so that you are not taken by surprise by an unexpected tuition bill. If you are close to that limit, this is where you might benefit in borrowing from a private lender.
Where Private Student Loans Can Help
Whether you are a first time borrower or you have borrowed in the past, most likely you will find that; even with federal student loans, you still need some additional funds for your grad school costs. That is where a private lender’s graduate student loan can help. Many private lenders offer student loans to cover a wide range of post bachelor’s degree options. Everything from a basic loan for grad school, to residency loans and bar exam loans are offered by many of the major private lenders. Make sure you are finding the right loan for your educational needs.
Like any loan, make sure you do your homework before you apply. Compare student loan interest rates, repayment terms and co-signer options. Many of the major private lenders have loan advisers available to help answer those questions. Also, be realistic in your lending. Decide well before hand how much you will be comfortable borrowing and whether you will be able to make payments on your loan while you are in school. Figuring out the answers to those questions will help you make informed smart decisions. You’re already smart if you are going to grad school, so make sure you show how financially smart you are too!