If you’re interested in going back to school and you haven’t been in a while, you might be shocked at the hefty price tag. When did learning get so expensive? So your next question might be: what student loans for associate degrees are available to me? Many students need financial assistance, but sorting through all those student loans can be a bit confusing. Here is the breakdown on your options:

Federal Stafford Loan

This is a loan offered by the government. There are two types of Stafford Loans: subsidized and unsubsidized.

A Subsidized Stafford Loan is a need-based loan. In this loan, the government pays the interest on the loan while you’re in school. Once you have graduated, you’re responsible for paying the loan back.

An Unsubsidized Stafford Loan is not a need-based loan. In this loan, your interest accrues while you’re in school just like any other loan (similar to a mortgage). When you’ve graduated, you’re responsible for paying it back monthly, principal and interest included.

It’s important to know that almost everyone is eligible to receive some kind of financial loan from the government to pay for school. The great thing is that interest rates on these loans are usually much lower than private loans, and you have a grace period after graduation to give you time to find a job before you have to start making payments. Oftentimes that grace period makes all the difference!


A PLUS LOAN (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) is for, you guessed it, parents of college students. These loans are to help cover educational expenses. Unlike other loans, however, repayment is not put off until the student graduates. Usually, parents have to start making payments starting 30-90 days after acceptance of the loan. This loan, like the Stafford Loan, comes from the government.

Private Loan

A private loan is from a bank or other lending institution that you take out to pay for your education. These types of loans are credit-based, so you’ll need a good score in order to get one. If you don’t have much of a credit history, then you’ll need a cosigner to apply for a private loan. A cosigner is anyone, like a parent, close relative, or friend, that is willing to put their name on the loan with yours as a good faith pledge that you’ll repay back the loan. If you miss payments, however, this bad mark goes on their credit history.

There’s no doubt that school gets more expensive every year. But, most people can apply for assistance. You can pick up a Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at any government institution, such as the library. There are no application fees for this, so don’t miss your chance to get some help to go back to school!