Should I borrow for college?

A first question to answer is whether you and/or your child are willing to take on student loan debt at all. If not, you should reexamine whether a lower-cost college would serve the purpose just as well, or nearly as well, without incurring debt. Also examine whether there are any unexplored possibilities for scholarships, grants, work-study stipends or other forms of college aid, on the income end, and whether savings could be achieved on the outgo end, for example by sticking with on-campus housing and meal plans rather than other room and board options.

If after that you still need to borrow, federal loans could be a better first option over private loans. Federal loans generally are cheaper, more available and come with better repayment terms. Federal loans also offer more options with an income-based repayment plan and public service loan forgiveness.

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