Understand Your Loan - Iowa College Access Network - ICAN

Understand Your Loan

Many different lenders offer private education or student loans with different terms, which can make a real difference in the total amount you'll pay over time. (Remember, it may take many years after you graduate to pay off all your loans.) These questions can help you make sense of the differences:

  • What's the lender's lowest interest rate and fee combination, and how can you get it?
    • Is this combination available for the life of the loan, or only during a limited period of time?
  • Is there a limit on how high the variable interest rate can go?
    • How often is the interest rate adjusted, and how is it determined?
  • Is there a penalty for paying off the loan early?
  • How long can you defer payments while you're in school?
    • Can you defer payments if you go to graduate school?
  • Are the lender's discounts guaranteed or are they subject to change?
  • Will the lender take away your discount for any reason?
  • Would the lender let you defer or reduce payments temporarily because of economic hardship?


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