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Do you have student loans, as in more than one? Odds are you do, but not every student loan is the same. We want you to understand the important differences between your student loan options, so we’ve summarized them for you here:

Subsidized Student Loans

Direct Subsidized Loans are available only to undergraduate students and are based on need. The U.S. Department of Education will pay for the interest while you’re in school at least half-time. The government offers a ‘grace period’ so you won’t begin repayment until six months after you graduate. The government might also pay the interest during a deferment, IF you meet eligibility requirements.

Unsubsidized Student Loans

Unsubsidized Loans are available to students who do not qualify for a subsidized loan, or have already borrowed the maximum amount on a subsidized loan. Interest on these loans start as soon as the money is disbursed, and the interest is NOT paid by the Dept. of Education.

PLUS Loans

PLUS Loans are available to the parents of a student, or by graduate school students. Interest on a PLUS Loan starts the day the money is disbursed and must be paid by the student .

Private Student loans

These are loans that are not guaranteed by the Dept. of Education. They come from private lenders such as banks, or institutions like Sallie Mae and Navient whose primary business is originating, servicing, and collecting private education loans. Private loans are subject to the same restrictions and requirements as other types of loans from financial institutions.

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Tom Wray

Tom Wray is all about the research, getting it right, and making it relevant. He’s got solid journalistic experience in all forms of content delivery – and he’s got his keyboard humming with what’s up and important for students, college admins, parents, employers and news junkies. Check out his weekly columns: Student Loans 101, News Flash!, Eye On School Success, Eye On Student Success and more.