A loan is a form of financial aid that needs to be repaid. There are several types of loans with different terms, conditions, and interest rates.

The U.S. Department of Education guidance states that most Federal Direct student loans are not subject to a credit check or other underwriting and come with important protections for students and families; the same is often not true of private, institutional, or Parent PLUS loans. Students should separately research the terms and conditions of each.

All Federal Direct Loan information is submitted to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). It is accessible by the guarantor agencies, lenders, and institutions that are determined to be authorized users of the NSLDS. Students may sign into to see their loan information.

Federal Loans


Not sure where to start? Read more to find out about the different types of federal loans and the differences between them.

Federal Loans

Private Loans

If students have exhausted all federal, state, and institutional forms of financial aid eligibility, but are still in need of additional financial resources to help meet their educational costs, then a private loan may represent a viable option.