While getting a degree in four years or less is usually the best way to enter the workforce and start making money, attending university part-time is often the only realistic option. especially if you have kids at home or work full time. . Fortunately, part-time students can use many of the same student loan options as full-time students, including federal student loans and private student loans.
Read on to find out who qualifies as a part-time student, what student loans are available for part-time students, and how to find the best student loan for your needs.
Who qualifies as a part-time student?
The US Department of Education defines part-time students as those “enrolled only at half of the expected full-time course load”. However, some private student loan lenders may define part-time status differently.
The specific number of credits required for full-time status per semester is determined by your school. It is common for schools to require a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester for full-time students; taking less than that would make you a part-time student. Since most college courses are worth three to four credits, that typically means taking three or fewer courses per semester to qualify as a part-time student.
Student loan options for part-time students
Student loans work the same for part-time students as they do for full-time students, so they can come with the same benefits. Here are the main student loan options that you can qualify for as a part-time student.
Federal student loans
Federal student loans are available for students who attend university part-time or longer. Federal loans also benefit from low fixed interest rates and flexible repayment terms, including the ability to sue income-based repayment plans.
To be eligible for federal student loans and other federal aid, you will need to complete the Free Federal Student Aid Application (FAFSA). Your federal student loan options could include:
- Direct subsidized loans: These federal loans are available to undergraduates who can demonstrate financial need. A major advantage of direct subsidized loans is that the government covers interest charges that accrue while you are in school.
- Direct unsubsidized loans: These federal loans are available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students who are unable to demonstrate financial need. Unlike direct subsidized loans, these loans earn interest while you are in school.
- Direct PLUS loans: These loans are available for graduate or professional students, and they are not based on financial need. However, a credit check is required for borrowers. These loans also earn interest while you are in school.
Private student loans
In addition to federal student loans, borrowers who attend university part-time can obtain loans from private lenders, although it is best to use up your federal loans first, as these offer more. ‘advantages. With private student loans, part-time students can benefit from incredibly competitive interest rates and terms, and they can often choose from flexible repayment options.
Here are some student lenders who offer part-time student loans:
Some, like Sallie Mae, even offer loans for students who attend less than half-time. To see your eligibility and the rates that will be offered to you, shop around with a few different lenders.
How to find the best student loans
Most students should take advantage of federal student loans first before turning to private student loans. Federal student loans come with a range of repayment benefits, including deferral, forbearance, and income-tested repayment plans. Private student loans often don’t.
Federal student loan borrowers are also the most likely to receive special assistance in times of financial difficulty. For example, the federal government has set the interest rate at 0% and suspended payments on federal loans several times since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current extension of this relief is expected to expire on January 31, 2022.
Either way, you should make an effort to research student loans with:
- A fair and competitive student loan interest rate.
- Flexible repayment terms.
- A monthly payment you can afford.
- Emergency adjournment or abstention options.
The only way to determine which student loan is best for you is to get a few quotes, as each private lender sets rates differently.
Also make sure that you only borrow for school what you absolutely need. Since you’ll have to pay back every cent you borrow, plus interest and fees, you’ll want to borrow with your future in mind.