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Nitro Knowledge. Your Guide to Paying for College.


The Stafford Loan is a federal student loan offered by the U.S. Department of Education to help eligible students pay for college. 

You may see this loan referred to as a Federal Stafford Loan, a Direct Student Loan, or a Direct Stafford Loan. The good news: they all mean the same thing. However, there are two types of Stafford Loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. Let's talk about each.

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Federal student loans, also known as Stafford Loans or Direct Loans, come in two forms: subsidized and unsubsidized.

Subsidized loans are offered to students with financial need. For these loans, the government will cover the interest while you're in school. Unsubsidized loans are offered to students without extreme financial need. If you get an unsubsidized loan, the loan interest will accrue while you're in school if you defer payments. Let's dig in to how each of these loans work. 

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No, you cannot transfer a federal PLUS loan to another person, including the student whose education was paid by the loan. However, you may be able hand off the loan through refinancing. 

If you're considering taking out a Parent PLUS loan for the 2020-2021 school year, it might be wise to check out your other options first. If you already have a PLUS loan in your name, here's what you need to know to transition the debt to your child's name. 

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Two names that come up often when talking about student loans are Sallie Mae and Navient. Many people get confused over whether they're the same company or not. 

Here's the fast answer: No, but they used to be. These days, they are two separate companies. Sallie Mae is offers private student loans and Navient acts as a servicer for federal and private student loans. 

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As you begin to consider student loans--whether to fill in the tuition gap or cover the majority of your expenses--it’s wise to think ahead a few years to the time when you’ll start repayment. Despite any cure-all banner ads you may have seen in the course of your loan research, let us assure you from the get-go: there is no magic wand that makes student debt disappear.

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Many prospective students focus their college search on public universities, not private schools, because state universities typically charge much lower tuition. But, despite the higher tuition, a private college or university isn’t always more expensive – and sometimes costs significantly less.

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