Loans

The basics

In most cases, rates start around 10% APR for people with good credit who are taking out an unsecured loan — one that does not require collateral — from banks and credit unions. Borrowers with excellent credit may be able to find lower rates from several online lenders, but those consumers typically also can qualify for an even cheaper 0% interest credit card.

First understand your basic options. Around the time you graduate, you’ll be required to go through an online exit counseling session on the government’s Federal Student Aid website. There, you’ll choose a repayment plan, which determines how much you’ll pay each month to your student loan servicer. The plans you’re eligible for depend on your total loan balance, the types of loans you took out and, in some cases, how much you earn.

The USDA guarantees a mortgage issued by a participating local lender - similar to FHA- and VA-backed loans - allowing you to get low mortgage interest rates, even without a down payment. If you put little or no money down, you will have to pay a mortgage insurance premium, though.

As soon as you realize the due date passed, call the company that services your federal loans or the bank that issued your private loans. Ask them questions about what a missed payment means for you, including if they charge late fees.