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The cost of higher education seems to be going up constantly.

If student loan debt is any indicator, then costs are definitely rising. The Federal Reserve Bank recently published its Report on Household Debt and Credit, and it stated that total household debt increased to $13.15 trillion. Mortgage, student loan, auto, and credit card debt all increased compared to prior reports.

So what are the most cost effective ways to pay for college without accumulating too much debt?

1. Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans typically offer you some of the best interest rates available. You usually have to work with your school’s student loan office to apply for a federal student loan. Also, you may need to demonstrate financial need to qualify for some of these loans.

For dependent undergraduates, you’re allowed to borrow up to a limit of $31,000. The best federal student loan interest rates can be as low as 4.45%. Furthermore, some student loans offer a six month grace period. This means you don’t have to make any payments during the first six months after you graduate. Remember, interest still accrues during the grace period.

2. Private Student Loans

Even though federal loans have low interest rates, the loan limit might not be enough to cover your expenses. In this case, you might have to look for a private lender. In the past, this was an unpleasant experience since it involved visiting each lender’s office and filling out an application. After a few days wait, you got a reply, and sometimes you would get rejected.

Today, the web based multi-lender marketplace makes looking for a private student loan much easier. You just answer a few quick questions about yourself, and the platform does the rest. In minutes you have several prequalified rates to choose from. These are real rates that help you make a fast, informed decision about borrowing. Usually, you don’t have to demonstrate financial need to qualify for a private student loan.

3. Get a Grant

Grants are offered to students through specific organizations. This kind of financial support may be awarded based on need, academic achievement, or some other criteria. Some sources of grants are the federal government (Pell Grant), universities, colleges, companies, labor unions, and religious organizations. Grants may also be connected to a particular field of study or geographic area.

There are many types of grants available, and you can apply to as many as you like. Some might have restrictive clauses stating that if you win the grant, you might not be able to receive money from other sources. The best thing about grants is that you don’t have to pay the money back.

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