Student loans are a common way for students to pay for at least a portion of their education. We encourage you to secure as much financing as you can through scholarships and grants, then turn to student loans to fill any gaps in funding your education. Whether your student loan comes from the federal government or a private lender, the most important thing to understand is that you are borrowing money and that it must be paid back -- with interest.

Types of student loans

In general, there are two types of student loans: federal government and private (or alternative) loans.

Student writing on paper

Federal student loans

There are two federal student loan programs from the U.S. Department of Education:

  1. William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program
    The largest federal student loan program, this program consists of subsidized and unsubsidized loans, PLUS loans and consolitdation loans

    Learn more about direct loans »
  2. Federal Perkins Loan Program
    This program is for undergraduate and graduate students who demonstate an exceptional financial need.

    Learn more about Perkins loans »

Private educational loans

Private educational loans come from private lending institutions such as banks. These loans may have higher interest rates and are dependent on your credit history.

Learn more about private educational loans »