With the cost of education higher than ever, it's commonplace for people in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to rely on educational loans to pay for their classes. These loans can have a severe effect on financial stability later on. Doing a good loan comparison before you sign an agreement can save you hundreds of pounds, especially if you're thorough about examining the following elements.
Depending on where you go for your university loan, you may be subject to a credit check. If you are younger, this can be problematic, because most students who are just starting out on their own haven't established much of a credit history. You might need your parents or someone else to cosign for you, which makes the loan more complicated.
You probably know that you should try to get the student loan that has the lowest rate of interest, but there are other things to consider as you compare loan options. For instance, does interest start to immediately accrue, or are the calculations delayed until you graduate? These kinds of elements have a big effect on your ability to pay back the loan and how long you'll take to get out of debt.
Similar to interest, you will want to compare when you must start making payments. You should look at the amount you would need to pay every month and make a determination about whether that figure is reasonably within your budget. Your goal should be to find a payment level that allows you to pay down your debt while still living a somewhat comfortable life. Keep in mind that, in general, the longer your loan term, the more you'll usually pay in interest, but the lower your monthly payments typically are. Compare how much of your payment gets applied to the principle balance, as well as what happens to the loan in the event you become disabled.
Another thing to consider under payments when you're looking at different loans is whether the lender allows forbearance or deferment. These two options basically allow you to pause paying down the debt. Most people do not want to think about needing to do this, but the reality is that, if you get into financial hardships down the road, you might not be able to meet all your debt obligations, including your student loans. In this circumstance, having the option for some breathing room can be good.
Some lenders that provide school loans offer additional benefits as part of the loan agreement. For example, they might offer you perks such taking a specified amount off your balance (essentially giving you a discount) if you make a set number of payments on time. Others might give you a slightly better rate of interest if you agree to conditions such as working online or setting up automatic payments.
Loan Limit Amounts
Loan limits are important to look at when you are comparing sources for university funding because they can mean you need to use multiple lenders to cover your costs. Ultimately, this makes paying for your schooling more complex, but several smaller loans might be worth this complexity if you are able to get lower rates of interest. As an example of loan limits, in England, you can get a maintenance loan from the government of up to £4,418 for the 2014 school year if you are living at home, whereas the amount increases to £6,600 if you want to study abroad. Remember, just because you are eligible to borrow a certain amount doesn't mean you must do so--live within your means and only borrow what you really need to cover your costs.
A thorough loan comparison ensures you get the best deal and fit when you must borrow to cover the cost of university. You should look at elements such as the necessity for a credit check, the way the lender treats interest, payment amounts and options and benefits such as routine-payment discounts. The cap on the loan amount is another big factor. As you go through the comparison process, don't be surprised if getting the information you need takes time. It helps to start looking for providers well before the semester or school year is scheduled to start.