How do I get a Continuing Education Student Loan?

L. Dunne

Adults wishing to return to school for continuing education face many of the same financial issues that individuals just starting out do. There are several steps you should take when searching for a continuing education student loan. Your search should begin by checking into financial aid offerings from the school you will be attending, followed by looking at federal loan options. Then round out your search by considering private loans.

A student loan application form.
A student loan application form.

Start your search by reviewing payment options and financial aid offered by your educational institution. There may be loans offered for a particular major or degree. This information can be found on the school's website under financial aid. Entering your information into a cost and financial aid calculator can give you a more realistic picture of the amount you need to borrow.

The next step is to search for a federal continuing-education student loan. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available from the US Department of Education, should be completed by all students. Once on file, this application will enable your school to locate any federal continuing education student loans you qualify for. Filing is free, and those searching for graduate school loans may qualify for a Graduate Plus student loan from the government. Federal student loans often have a lower interest rate and different options for repayment plans than private loans.

Once all other options have been exhausted, the search for a private continuing education student loan should begin. Not all banks and financial institutions provide private student loans, but many do. A great place to start is to contact a loan specialist at the bank you currently use. If your current bank does not provide continuing education student loans, you may consider asking for recommendations. Ask friends or relatives that have obtained student loans which institution they used.

In the search for a continuing education student loan, you should consider what factors are most important to you. Decide on the maximum amount you can afford borrow, and take into account how soon the loan needs to be repaid and what is the interest rate. Applying with a cosigner may increase your chances of approval and even lower your interest rate. Always compare loans, and explore all options to find the best one. Do not necessarily sign for the first loan you are approved for.

You may also want to consider other options such as scholarships or grants. Scholarships and grants are better than a continuing education student loan because the money does not have to be repaid. Grants and scholarships are available to a wide array of students for various reasons. Make a list of your qualifications or characteristics. These can serve as keywords for what should usually be a free search. Examples of characteristics are race and gender, political or religious affiliation, location, and major.

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