Jean Chatzky
Many college-bound students are finding that the market for financial aid, especially when it comes to private loans, is not what it used to be. Jean talks with Ben Kaplan, author of How to Go to College for Almost Free, about how to take on the challenges of paying for college today and securing your college tuition.
Things to Consider When Seeking Financial Aid:
  • Don't panic. While some lenders have left the market, there is still a wide range of lenders from which you can choose.
  • Shop around. Don't just pick the first loan you see. "Even a day of legwork—of research—can ultimately save you a lot," Ben says.
  • Get the right type of loan. A government-backed loan is the best deal, Ben says. Look at a preferred lender list from your school, as well as other schools in the same geographic area. "It's a good place to start and see, depending on your school, what loans they're recommending directly."
  • Broaden your search. Consider your private loan options. Visit websites where you can fill out one application form that can be accessed—and bid on—by multiple lenders. These sites can help save you time and money, Ben says.
  • Don't just go for the lender with the lowest advertised rate. Rates will depend on your credit score. "Realize that there's a range, and you want to look at the whole range of potential rates you'll pay," he says. Borrower benefits that happen on the front end can also help you pick one loan over another.