Having a dilemma on how to pay for your college tuition? If your answer is yes, then you’re not alone and just one among the many countless students who are in dire need of financial aid to achieve their dreams of getting and finishing a good college education. If you’ve already ruled out the possibility of getting any form of scholarship or grant, then you might want to explore a federal student loan, which comes in two types: private and federal.

Of the two, federal student loans should be the first option a student should look into as these have the governments backing, which can be readily availed through any educational institution, banks, and lenders through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). Compared to private lending companies, it has lower interest rates, extended repayment periods, many repayment scheme options, and lower credit requirements. To get a hold of a federal student loan, some requirements should be fulfilled prior to submission, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that is just within reach through its website.

The most common federal student loan is the Stafford Loan that offers the lowest-cost to pay for a college education. It has no strict requirement for a loaner to show the financial need, so is open for either graduate and undergraduate students who are enrolled or planning to enroll at least half-time. The loan package has a fixed monthly interest rate that can be divided into two categories: subsidized and unsubsidized. With the first, the government takes care of the interest payments during the period the student is in school; while with the second, the student personally pays for the accrued interest but can defer doing so until graduation.

The Federal Perkins Loan, on the other hand, offers a very low, fixed interest rate at 5% for all those who show “exceptional” financial need for it, for both undergraduate and graduate students. The student should be enrolled in an eligible school and at least half-time in a degree program. They should also show satisfactory academic progress, with no pending defaults on Title IV related loans or grants, and fulfills all Selective Service requirements. The student receives payment, usually by check directly from the school, or is debited directly to the school charges, and of which is given in two payments for the whole academic year. Again, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid should be submitted accordingly.

It is important to do some little research to get a good idea on what type of federal student loan fits your specific needs. With a federal student loan, any prospective student can enroll in the course of their choice and fulfill all financial requirements up to the day of graduation without being burdened unnecessarily.