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Compare loans for part-time students
How to cover the cost of school when you're not enrolled full time.
Going to school at night after working a day job? Don’t want to commit to full-time enrollment? You still have options to fund your degree as a part-time student. Federal loans are typically the easiest to qualify for on your own since they don’t require a credit check for undergraduate students. But if you fall below half-time enrollment, you’ll have to stick to your private student loan options.
What's in this guide?
5 student loans you can use as a part-time student
To qualify for most student loans — both federal and private — you only need to be a part-time student. Here are a few options to consider:
|Loan amounts||APRs||Terms||Eligibility requirements|
|Federal Direct Subsidized Loan||Dependent and independent students:||10 to 25 years||Learn more|
|Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans||Dependent undergraduate students:|
Independent undergraduate students:
|10 to 25 years||Learn more|
|Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loans||$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance||5 to 20 years||Read review|
|Wells Fargo Undergraduate Private Student Loans||$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance||15 to 20 years||Read review|
|College Ave Undergraduate Student Loans||$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance||5 to 20 years||Read review|
How to apply for student loans as a part-time student
The process for applying varies depending on the type of loan you’re looking at. For federal loans, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the Federal Student Aid website. Give yourself at least an hour to fill out the application for the first time. To speed up the process, we recommend gathering all of the required documents and information ahead of time.
Most private student loan providers have online applications you can fill out on their website. Private lenders conduct a credit check when you apply, so try prequalifying with a few different lenders before filling out a full application to find the best deal available to you.
Compare student loans for part-time students
What to consider when borrowing as a part-time student
Always keep an eye on your enrollment status. For federal loans, you must attend school at least part time to qualify. If you need to take fewer classes and fall below part time, stick to private student loans.
If private student loans are your only option, keep these factors in mind when comparing lenders:
- Interest rates. Rates on private student loans can vary greatly. If you qualify for the best rate, it could be lower than federal loan rates. However, if you or your cosigner don’t have the best credit, you could get stuck with a rate upwards of 18%. Prequalifying with a few different lenders can help you find the best deal available to you.
- Repayment options. Look for a lender with flexible repayment plans and confirm you can defer repayments while in school. Ask about deferment or forbearance options if you decide to go back to school or hit a financial rough patch.
- Grace period. While most private lenders offer a six-month grace period, some give you nine months before repayments begin after leaving school. The longer the grace period, the more time you have to secure a job without worrying about repayments.
3 alternative ways to pay for school
Loans aren’t your only option to cover the cost of going to college. Here are three other ways to pay for school:
- Grants. Grants from the federal and state government, as well as through your school are ideal because they don’t have to be repaid. Check out our guide to grants for college to explore your options.
- Scholarships. Look into scholarships through your school and private organizations. Like grants, these don’t need to be repaid. Our guide to scholarships can help you find options tailored specifically to you.
- Income share agreements. More and more schools have started offering income share agreements as an alternative to student loans. Instead of paying back a loan with interest, you pay back the school with a percentage of your future earnings after you find a job.
Being a part-time student doesn’t mean you have to settle for partial funding. You have a slew of both private and federal student loan options to help fund your degree at your own pace. You can learn more about how it all works with our guide to student loans.
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