Private School Loans: 6 Tips to Pick the Right Loan

If you need a private school loan, here are some final suggestions as I wrap up a week of blogging about college loans:

1. First, read this week’s posts on student and parent loans:

5 Things You Need to Know About Private School Loans

College Loans: When Parents Need to Borrow

4 Things You Need to Know About Federal Student Loan

Federal Student Loans: Where Do I Apply

2. Head over to Student Lending Analytics, which provides an unbiased look at private student loan options.  The website rates private student loans with a star system. (Please note that the loan with the worst rating belongs to Sallie Mae, which has been the student lending goliath and big bully in this industry.

One of the best things about Student Lending Analytics, an independent research and advisory firm, is that it isn’t affiliated with any college loan lenders nor does it receive any payments from them.

3. Check out credit unions. These financial institutions may provide you with better rates than you can find with the major private student loan lenders. Currently the top three college lenders on Student Lending Analytics list are all credit unions.

4. Some states operate their own private loan programs. Tim Ranzetta, the founder of Student Lending Analytics, cautions families not to assume that a state program will always offer the best rates. Shop around!

Here are states with private college loan programs:

Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas and Vermont.

5. Think about when you will start repaying the loan. You will save thousands of dollars if you start repaying the loan while in school.

6. Remember:  Private college loans should always be a last resort. Exhaust all other options first!

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch. Follow her on Twitter.

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