Responsible Borrowing

For many students, borrowing in order to finance their college degree is necessary. College is an investment in your future. While student loans may be a necessary part of financing your degree, it’s important to borrow responsibly. This means only borrowing for what you need. Your debt burden upon graduation can be minimized if you track your loans every year, and only borrow for school-related expenses.

Here are some tips on how to borrow responsibly:

  • Create a budget to help keep borrowing to a minimum. Only borrow what you need. Use our Expense Estimator tool to figure out what your costs will be this year, and what your financial aid covers.
  • Review your current loan balance. Students can find their current loan balance by reviewing the “Loan Pmt Estimate” tab in their AccessPlus account or by logging into their account with the National Student Loan Data System at
  • Understand and be realistic about your earning potential after graduation. For example, if you are a Journalism major, and the entry-level, starting salary for journalists is $30,000, you should not be borrowing over that amount in student loans.
  • Accept your loans on a semester basis via their AccessPlus account. If you are not sure if you will need a loan that has been offered, don’t accept it until you know for sure. As long as you remain eligible, the loan will be available for you to accept at a later date if you choose.
  • Use all federal aid first. Federal loans tend to have more flexibility in terms of repayment, deferment and forbearance options, and have better interest rates.

Borrowing Options

Federal Loans

Federal education loans include the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan, Federal Parent PLUS Loan, and the Federal Graduate/Professional PLUS Loan.

Federal loans are funded by the U.S. Department of Education. In order to apply for all federal loans, the student must have a FAFSA on file. The FAFSA is the only required application for the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans. The Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans do not require a credit review or a co-signer. The Parent and Graduate/Professional PLUS loans require an additional application and a credit review.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are education loans funded by a third party lender. Private student loans require a separate application, credit review and co-signer. Private student loans cannot be consolidated with federal student loans. We encourage students to limit their borrowing of private loans because the repayment terms are not as flexible, and the interest rates are much higher than the federal loan rate.