How to get a student loan if you are a non-graduate student
Most people go to school for a degree – but not everyone. Non-graduate students may want to complete a certificate program or recertify themselves to work in a particular field or job, such as an electrician or paramedical. Or they may take courses simply to improve their skills or to become eligible for admission to a particular academic program.
In some cases, it is possible to obtain private student loans even if you are not a graduate – but help options are more limited if you do not want to obtain these credentials. This is especially true if you are looking for federal student loans, which tend to have low interest rates on student loans and which offer income-based repayment options.
If you’re considering borrowing for a non-degree program, here’s what you need to know about your options.
When does the federal government provide financial assistance to non-graduate students?
The federal government provides assistance to non-graduate students in very limited situations.
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You may be eligible for this assistance if:
- You complete an eligible certification program. To find one, use University Navigator and select “Certificate” as the reward level when searching for academic courses in your area
- You are a graduate student without a degree. You must be enrolled at least half-time in your program and take courses that are a prerequisite for admission to a graduate program. You will need a graduate program director to certify that you must complete the courses before starting a degree program.
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You must also meet other eligibility requirements, including having completed a high school diploma or equivalent or enrolled in a career path program and demonstrate an ability to benefit from the education provided.
Federal aid options for non-graduate students
If you are enrolled in a qualifying certification program or are taking the necessary courses to enter a graduate program, you may be eligible for:
- Federal Pell Grants: While you usually need to be enrolled in a degree granting program to be eligible for a Pell Scholarship, it is possible to get one if you are enrolled in a teacher certification program. In most cases, these grants do not have to be repaid. However, you must demonstrate extreme financial need to benefit from it.HOW TO APPLY FOR A STUDENT LOAN – FEDERAL AND PRIVATE
- Direct unsubsidized loans: These loans have a low fixed interest rate and low origination fees. Credit score is not a factor in determining approval
- PLUS Loans: These are only available if you don’t have bad credit. Although they have a relatively low fixed interest rate, the rate and origination fees are higher than on direct unsubsidized loans.
Other student loan options without seeking a diploma
If you cannot qualify for federal financial aid, you may have other options for getting help paying for your education. Alternative student loans could include the following types of financing:
- Private student loans: Some lenders offer loans to students who complete vocational training or certification programs. Credit and income are factored into eligibility, and you will not have the same repayment flexibility or other borrower benefits available with federal student loans.5 THINGS YOU CAN USE STUDENT LOANS FOR (IN ADDITION TO TUITION)
- Companies that provide tuition assistance: If you are getting certification in a particular field or training for a specific profession, some companies offer financial assistance to help pay for your courses.
- Payment plans offered by your school: The program you follow may allow you to pay over time.
- Other types of loans: Personal loans or home equity loans could be used to help pay for tuition.
Should non-graduate students take out student loans?
That you be eligible for federal assistance collaborating using Oak or other types of loans to finance your education, you should carefully consider whether the loan makes sense to complete courses when you are not graduating.
Remember that you will owe interest on your loans and repayment can be a financial burden. A high loan balance can also affect your debt to income ratio and make it more difficult to obtain credit in the future. It could affect your ability to buy a home. Before you borrow, make sure that the courses you pay as a non-graduate student will likely have a positive impact on your income so that you can pay off the debt you incur.