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College Student Loans: What To Watch Out For

Selecting college student loans is always a bit of a stressful time, there are so many options, so many different terms and even some very attractive looking offers. It is very important, however, to understand that lots of the really "to good to be true" types of college student loans are exactly that. Every year hundreds if not thousands of college student loans are issued that look like a good deal on the surface, but without reading the fine print and understanding exactly what you are getting into you may find out you have cost yourself thousands of dollars in interest or fees over time.

Key things to look for in college student loans, in particular with private school or education loans include:

• Vague information on the interest rate of the loan and how the interest rate will be calculated over the life of the loan. If at all possible look at loans that allow you to lock in the interest rate if the rate is good at the time of the loan. Not locking in a rate can result in either a really good option if the interest rates are more favorable to borrowers, but it can also go the other way and have the lender make a lot of money.

• Your credit score will affect the interest rate as well as the amount of money you are able to borrow. Be very leery of lenders that promise low rates no matter what your credit score is or if you have bad credit. They typically are adding in additional fees, costs or other services that you will end up paying for in the long run. These costs may well exceed having a slightly higher interest rate.

• College student loans that promise you money for non-educational items or that indicate they have a loan that falls in a loophole to get around the policies. This is both illegal and against the Higher Education Act policies and typically these types of scams are exposed, often too late for unsuspecting students.

• Ask if the lender will sell your loan. Many of the smaller private lenders will sell your loan to someone else, leaving you with someone other than the original lender to deal with and possibly resulting in different interest rates and terms. A reputable lender will put information about the selling of the loan in writing and will also guarantee that the original terms will continue to apply.

While it may be tempting to look at some of these newer companies offering college student loans, it is still good advice to stick with companies that have a proven track record and that have a history of working with students in a fair and responsible manner.

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