Skip to main content
I Can Succeed

FAFSA Delayed by Federal Student Aid Until December 31, 2023
While you wait for the FAFSA, get started on your FSA ID username and password. The student and at least one parent need an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA. Your FSA IDs must be setup and verified BEFORE you file the FAFSA!   Learn more.


Main Content

Student Loans

Think Before You Borrow

Student loans can help make college a reality. However, unlike grants, scholarships, and work-study, student loans are a form of financial aid that must be repaid with interest. As with any debt, you must repay your student loans; even if you don’t complete your education, you’re not satisfied with your education or you don’t find employment after you graduate. Failure to make regular monthly payments could result in a defaulted student loan, which could have a serious impact on your credit score.

As with all loans, you must repay what you borrow (the principal) plus interest (a percentage of the principal). When you make payments, each check is divided up to pay:

  • Any late charges or collection costs.
  • Interest accrued (or built up) since the last payment.
  • Possibly part of the principal.

Not all student loans are alike. 

Federal Student Loans

Federal Student Loans are an option provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Federal student loans offer deferred payments and fixed interest rates, and for some students even a subsidized interest rate while in-school. The application process for federal student loans is done through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and accepted through the institution’s financial aid office. Click here for more information on Federal Student Loans. 

Private Student Loans

Private Student Loans are offered by various private lenders, banks, and credit unions. Depending on a lender’s qualification requirements, private loans may be a better fit for some students and parents. Each lender has a different set of criteria, which, when qualified, can offer students and parents better interest rates and payment options. Click here for more information on private loan options.

Steps to Paying for College

Students and families should work with financial aid professionals at their respective colleges and universities to explore and exhaust all sources of financial aid. If borrowing is necessary, families should use the lowest-cost options first.

Start Here!

For undergraduate students, the federal government offers student loans with the lowest rates and benefits and protections that are not available through private lenders. 

Need More?

Private lenders currently offer rates lower than the Federal Parent PLUS loan. There are many options for a private student loan. Currently the lowest rate loan is offered by ISL Education Lending. ISL Education Lending offers private loans for students with cosigner(s) or parents can borrow on the students' behalf. These loans are subject to credit approval. 

Additional Options

Parents can borrow a Federal PLUS Loan on the student's behalf. Be aware that the Federal PLUS Loan has an upfront origination fee. 

Compare Student Loan Options


Federal Loans

Private Loans

Available From

  • U.S. government

  • Private lenders like banks, credit unions, and savings and loans

Interest Rates

  • Fixed

  • Generally lower than private loans

  • Some loans do not accrue interest until repayment begins

  • Fixed or variable

  • Generally higher than federal student loans but can be lower than the Parent PLUS loan


  • Deferred while enrolled at least half-time in college

  • Interest may accrue on certain loans

  • May or may not be deferred while in school

Application Process

  • Must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

  • No cosigner required

  • No credit check necessary with the exception of PLUS loans

  • Obtain an application from the lender

  • May need to file a FAFSA

  • May need a cosigner

  • Likely subject to a credit check

Can You Afford the Debt?

When considering a loan also consider whether you’ll be able to repay it. Keep in mind that you may have to continue borrowing student loans each year that you’re in school. Your student loan payment obligation will reduce what you can spend in the future on a car, home, furniture, other living expenses, and family. It’s important to keep your borrowing to a minimum.

To understand the long-term impact of your borrowing decisions ICAN recommends using ISL Education Lending Game Plan. The ISL Education Lending Game Plan is a free, interactive online tool that helps students understand ways to borrow less and set the foundation for a financially responsible future. Through a series of questions, the Student Loan Game Plan can help students and families understand the consequences of over borrowing and, just as importantly, discover how to avoid over borrowing. To begin, visit

Remember the 1% rule.

Figure 1% of your total amount borrowed as your monthly payment for 10 years after you finish school. Your borrowing should be limited to your first year’s starting salary. If in your first year you’ll make $30,000, you shouldn’t borrow more than $30,000, making your monthly payment approximately $300 per month for 10 years.

© 2023I Can Succeed. All rights reserved.