Office of Student Financial Success

Types of Loans

Federal Student Loans

Federal education loans include:

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. Both the Parent and Graduate/Professional PLUS loan applications are found online at

All federal loan borrowers will be assigned a loan servicer. This is a third party lender that the federal government has assigned to collect your loan payments. They are responsible for helping the borrower manage their loan repayment. More information on loan servicers is available at

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 often a 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.

Iowa State University’s preferred private lender list is available at Students are not required to borrow from a lender listed on this list, and they should know that there are many other lenders aside from those listed.

How do I compare loan options?

Do your research and shop around for the best terms and rates before borrowing. Private loans often do not have the same benefits as federal student loans, so make sure you fully understand the nature of your loan contract before you borrow. You can use CashCourse’s Student Loan Comparison Chart to easily track different loan options.

Some things you may want to consider when selecting a private student loan:

  • What is the interest rate? Is it fixed or variable?
  • What is the interest rate cap for variable rates?
  • Are there fees? What are they? Do you have prepayment penalty fees?
  • When will my repayment begin?
  • What are my repayment options?
  • What are my repayment options?
  • What will be the total costs of the loan (interest, principal, fees)?
  • Are there any discounts for automatic payments and/or on-time payments?
  • Are there deferment/forbearance options during repayment?

Need help exploring private loan options? Schedule a Financial Success appointment in Navigate Student app.