What are student loans?
Being a student is an expensive business. Students who don't have the benefit of parents to support them through their years of studying need sources of funding that are realistic in terms of how and when a loan needs to be repaid. Student loans are a common feature of higher education in many parts of the world. They give you access to money to support your living expenses and help to pay your tuition fees. These are personal loans, geared to you and your requirements throughout the period of your course. If you want to continue studying after gaining your first degree, you may be able to top up your student loan if your lender agrees.
Why do people use student loans?
If you are starting out at university you may not have sufficient savings to fund your studies. You may have had a part-time job but that's not likely to have given you a serious nest egg. So for many young people – and mature students as well – a student loan from either a public or private source of finance is part of the package. Taking out a student loan can rebalance your financial security over a number of years. You're aiming for a degree to improve your job opportunities with the potential over the progress of your career to earn more than you might otherwise have done.
What are the main features of student loans?
Many banks, as well as the Australian government, offer loan programs to help you with your student finances. Lenders are well aware that most students won't have a steady income stream, wherever it comes from, and look to the potential you have for your future income. Loans from the government can be attractive in terms of good repayment conditions, but not everyone is necessarily eligible for these and even those in receipt of a government loan may need to top up from a private provider.
Lenders may offer a student loan at below normal personal loan interest rates, an appealing option for many. You may also be able to defer repayments until you are in employment and begin to build up your finances.
What are the pros and cons of student loans?
For many students a student loan is essential to be able to manage finances during the period of study. Often with low interest rates and favourable repayments terms, they can provide financial security while at university.
If you take out a private loan and are able to defer payments that will help your immediate financial situation, but be aware that interest is likely to be charged on the loan right from the start, and after a number of years that can add a lot of money to what you will have to repay.