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Apply for federal student aid. The federal Pell grant program is an income-based program designed to meet the financial needs of college students. The best aspect of the program is that funds received do not have to be repaid and there is no fixed grant amount, as reward sums are based on the cost of tuition. In best-case scenarios, federal student aid can cover partial or full tuition, eliminating the need for student loans. But, if you don't qualify, the program can still provide you with further financial assistance (see Resources).
Start with Sallie Mae. As one of the most reputable student loan providers, Sallie Mae has several forms of financial assistance. In most cases, loans are the
best way to start. These loans come with low, fixed interest rates and do not have extensive credit requirements for approval. In most cases, a student with little or no credit can acquire subsidized loans through Sallie Mae without the assistance of a co-signer.
Branch out to private and signature loan providers if federal Pell grants and loans are not enough to cover all of your costs. Banking institutions such as Sallie Mae, Chase, Bank of America, SunTrust and Wells Fargo are the most reputable. Private and signature loans should be your last resort, as they have much higher interest rates and approval requirements. Students usually need co-signers with established credit, laudable and consistent income history, revolving accounts, major assets and few financial liabilities.