Don’t put your finances on hold while you’re studying – find out what loan options you have as a student.
Many students find themselves on tight budgets while they make their way through university. Course fees and living expenses often start piling up quicker than expected when it's your first time out of home. Many students are only able to work part-time or casually and earn minimum wage (or close to it). It’s good to know that if you find yourself in need of a loan, there are options available to you.
Personal loan options for students
Just because you are a student, doesn't mean you don't have options available for finance. Compare your options below.
How does a student loan work?
Student loans work in the same way as personal loans available to others working full-time and who have left study. The main differences are the eligibility criteria, which is usually more flexible as to allow those with lower incomes, with fewer assets or those with part-time jobs to apply and be approved. Because of these, student loans are usually for smaller amounts and the terms and repayments may be stricter. These personal loans may also come with benefits, such as discounted interest rates or waived fees.
Keep in mind that while many student loans can be used to finance a range of purposes, you may want to avoid taking out a student loan to cover small, everyday expenses. You need to factor the loan repayments into your budget before you apply, and if you are already struggling to manage your everyday expenses, adding loan repayments into your budgets may not be your best option.
Personal loans available to students
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Student loan options that are available
When it comes to selection a student loan, there are a few options available:
- Secured personal loan. This type of loan requires you to attach an asset, such as a car or equity in a home, as a guarantee in order to be approved for the loan. These loans can be fixed or variable and usually come with lower rates due to the guarantee, which can be repossessed by the lender in case you default on the loan.
- Unsecured personal loan. This loan does not require a guarantee, although as such, usually comes with higher rates. This type of loan is generally more flexible and can be used for a range of purposes, and also comes with fixed or variable terms.
- Medical student loan. This is an innovative type of loan offered by a few lenders to medical and dental students. Qualifying students in their final year of study can secure a loan that they can put towards their course, living expenses, debt consolidation, or other purposes.
- Graduate loan. If you’re a university student in your final year of study, you may be eligible to take out a loan and enjoy no repayments for the first year. This graduate loan can be used to finance anything of your choice and can help cover expenses while you find a job in your first year out of uni.
- Car loan. If you’re looking at purchasing a car, students may also be eligible to take out a car loan with a wide range of lenders. These loans require that you attach the car as a guarantee on the loan, but in return you can usually enjoy quite competitive rates and fees.
- Payday loan. If you really find yourself strapped for cash and in an emergency situation, you also have the option of taking out a short-term loan. These are small, short-term financing solutions and can be accessed by those receiving benefits, working part-time, or even those with bad credit.
How to compare student loans
Before you apply for any student loan, it’s important to compare your options to ensure you choose the most competitive one for you:
- How much can I afford? While you may be approved for the loan, keep in mind that ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether you can afford the loan or not. Take a look at the rate, the fees, and see how much your repayments will be. If you don’t think you’ll comfortably make the repayments, you may need to reconsider the loan. Use our personal loan calculator to help.
- Who is the lender? Are they reputable? Can they be easily contacted? Have other customers left positive reviews of their services/products online? The reputation of the lender should inform your decision.
- How much can I borrow? You should also check the loan amount being offered to ensure it will be sufficient for your needs. Keep in mind that the amount you’re actually approved for will depend on the criteria set by the lender and your ability to repay the loan.
- How competitive are the rates and fees? Compare the rates and fees you will be charged to other similar loan products and see how they fare. Are they competitive? You want to select the product that will cost you the least, so make sure you’re getting the product that’s giving you the best deal.
- What are the restrictions? You should familiarise yourself with the terms of the loan to see if there are any restrictions that will affect you. The last thing you need is to take out the loan only to find out you can’t use the loan amount the way you wanted, or you can’t make extra repayments like you’d planned. Find out what you can and can’t do with a personal loan.
Benefits and drawbacks to consider
- Package options. Some lenders offer student package options that allow you to combine loans with transaction and savings account, credit cards and other products to save money.
- Tailored products. As the needs of many students are quite unique, many lenders have developed innovative loan products specifically for students.
- Flexibility Some student loan products have flexible features that can help you to better manage your loan. One of these features is the no required repayments for the first year with the graduate loans.
- Fewer options. As students generally work fewer hours and earn less money than those in full-time positions, there may be fewer loan options available to them.
- The risk of getting into debt. If you work casual hours or are on a strict budget, taking on a loan puts you at risk of getting into a cycle of debt.
Things you may want to avoid with a student loan
While student loans can offer you a way to access finance that may be needed by you, you should consider your ability to afford the loan before applying. Students are generally on tight budgets, and a loan is a serious and long-term expense to take on. Consider your financial circumstances, compare the options available and decide whether this loan is right for you.