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Smart Borrowing

When considering the cost of a college education, it's important to factor in all education-related expenses. Besides the obvious tuition and room and board, you can't forget things like books, lab fees, course materials and even perhaps a chance to study abroad. By estimating ahead, not only will there be no unwelcome surprises, but it will give you a good sense of how much you need to borrow without over-borrowing.

Borrow what you need, but only what you need. It never makes sense to run up more debt than you have to.

When you think about college costs, what comes to mind? Tuition, room and board, right? That's daunting enough. But there's a lot more to college life. There are other education-related expenses for you to consider - like books, lab fees, course materials, a laptop. Then there are things like campus transportation and parking. And travel to and from college!

The time to think about these costs is before you start applying for financing.

  • College costs go beyond tuition, room and board.
  • College costs differ by state and type of institution.
  • How much money can the student contribute toward college?
  • What can the family contribute?

A 2007 Cognition Financial survey found that more than one quarter of students (26 percent) said they would be solely responsible for paying for college, while just over one in 10 parents (11 percent) said their children would be carrying the full load. To ensure that families are not borrowing too little or too much, it's really important that students and parents talk about—and agree on—how much they're going to need and who is going to be responsible for the financing. The time for families to think about these costs is well before applying for financing.

The Loan Cost Calculator

See how the choice of your repayment option affects the total amount you pay back.

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The most difficult part about the loan process can be getting started. The 5Rs worksheet can help make taking the first step easier.

See how