As a parent with one child in college and another heading off to college in the fall of 2017, I know all too well about the difficulties of finding a way to pay for it.
Below is a guest post from the CEO and co-founder of College Ave Student Loans that might help some parents to navigate the stressful process of paying for college. This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do no necessarily reflect my own.
College award letters have arrived and decision day has passed. Now tuition bills are arriving and many families are thinking: How do we pay for it? As parents formulate a plan to afford college, private student loans can help bridge the gap between scholarships, grants, and federal student loans. Here are some tips from College Ave Student Loans CEO and Co-Founder Joe DePaulo on things to consider when thinking about private student and parent loans:
Consider all of your options. Scholarships, grants, and federal student loans in the student’s name should be the first things families look to when budgeting for college. Unfortunately, these sources aren’t always enough to cover the full cost of college. A successful college funding strategy takes some research and planning, by looking at all available sources of funding. For those with good credit, a private student loan or private parent loan might help with expenses not covered by other options.
Understand the importance of good credit. Unlike federal loans, private student loans typically require a credit and income review to determine an individual’s anticipated ability to repay the loan. Since many students have limited credit history and income, private student loans typically require a cosigner (often a parent or guardian who has good credit and sufficient income) who agrees to take equal responsibility to repay the loan if the student borrower can’t. Some private lenders, like College Ave Student Loans, also offer parent loans for parents who want to borrow on their own without sharing responsibility with the student. Parents with strong credit may be able to save with private parent loans over the Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan, so be sure to shop around. Not sure about your credit? College Ave Student Loans offers simple and free credit pre-qualification tools at CollageAveStudentLoans.com so customers can quickly find out if their credit qualifies for a College Ave loan.
Make sure your plan goes beyond tuition.There are lots of extra costs of college beyond the school’s tuition and fees. Plan ahead for extra expenses likedorm supplies, books, or a new laptop. If a student is in off-campus housing, you may also need to think about utilities, groceries, gas and more. Schools factor these additional expenses into their cost of attendance. As long as your existing aid doesn’t exceed the school’s calculated cost of attendance, private student and parent loans can be used to cover those out-of-pocket costs. College Ave’s Parent Loan even offers the option for a portion of the loan funds to be deposited directly into the parents’ bank account – so they can control the spending for extra college costs.
Don’t assume all loans are the same. If you decide that borrowing is the right option for your family, shop around to get a loan that works for you. Low rates are important, but also be sure to look for lenders with repayment options that help you match the loan to your budget. Be on the lookout for any application or origination fees as well.
If you need to borrow, don’t wait until the last minute. The time from application to disbursement (when a student loan is sent to the school) varies. At a minimum, the process requires participation from you, your lender, and your school. Even though this can be streamlined, there’s always the possibility that something could slow it down such as your school certifying your loan. On top of that, there are certain regulatory periods (e.g., right-to-cancel period) that are required by law and cannot be reduced.
About the author:
Joe DePaulo, a financial services veteran, previously served as CFO, EVP of Banking and a member of the Board of Directors at Sallie Mae. Before Sallie Mae, he was CEO and co-founder of Credit One Financial Solutions, a company focused on debt consolidation. He previously held several executive positions as MBNA, including U.S. Card group executive and member of the corporate management committee.