Many students find that they will need outside funding to help pay for their college education. Student loans are one source of money to help cover college costs. Here are four important steps to take before you commit to a student loan:

  1. Research and Apply for Scholarships
  2. Fill out the FAFSA®
  3. Understand your Budget Needs
  4. Evaluate and Compare Student Loan Terms

1. Research and Apply for Scholarships

Whether you're an artist, an athlete or a mathlete, there may be a scholarship that's tailor-made to your skills and interests. Check the Free Scholarship Search tool from Discover® Student Loans to find scholarships that meet your unique needs. No registration required.

2. Fill out the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used by the US Department of Education to determine if you are eligible for grants, federal student loans or work-study programs to help pay for school.

3. Understand your Budget Needs

Before you decide whether you'll need to take out a student loan, you need to understand how much your college expenses are going to be. Ask your school if they have any resources to help you budget or use an online tool like our Loan Amount Calculator to estimate how much you may need to borrow.

4. Evaluate and Compare Student Loan Terms

If you still need a student loan, do your research and compare loan terms, including interest rates, repayment options and borrower benefits.


FAFSA® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover® Student Loans.

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