Student loans are typically offered at low interest rates and must be repaid, so there are many options and issues to consider.

The Stafford Loan Program is one of the Department of Education's largest financial aid programs. Students can participate in the Stafford Loan Program through either the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Loan Program) or the Federal Family Education Loan Program. The application process for both programs begins with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The major difference between the two loan programs is the lender. Under the Stafford Loan Program, students borrow funds from commercial lenders. Under the Direct Loan Program, students borrow funds from the federal government.

Going through the financial aid process is not an easy task, and deciding how much to borrow can be even more difficult. FinAid offers an online calculator that can assist you in estimating borrowing needs. However, before borrowing any amount, you need to examine how much repayment amounts will be after graduation. An excellent resource for this is the Loan Calculator, which attempts to take into account a student's starting salary after graduation and future earning potential.

You need to read and understand all loan agreements before assuming the responsibility of repaying a loan.

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