Gather Information

Gather the information you need to:

  • Find the right loan option for you, and
  • Apply

If you apply for financial aid, your school will likely include federal student loans as part of your financial aid package.  It’s important to understand what types of loans you are offered.  Generally, there are two types of loans: Federal student loans and private student loans.

Federal Student Loans:  These loans are provided by the federal government, and some are often included in your financial aid package. Since federal student loans have many benefits including flexible repayment options and income-driven repayment plans, they typically should be considered first.

Private Student Loans:  These loans are non-federal loans, made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, state agency or school.

Gather information to compare loan features, interest rates and fees. You will want to compare all features, for example if a lender is offering a loan without a loan or origination fee, is the interest rate higher?

Private Student Loans vs. Federal Direct PLUS Loans – Who Is the Borrower?

When comparing private student loans and Federal Direct PLUS Loans, it is important to understand who the primary borrower is, and who is responsible for repaying the loan. Federal Direct PLUS Loans are available to both parents and graduate/professional students, therefore the parent (or the graduate/professional student, if applicable) is considered to be the primary borrower and is responsible for repaying the loan. In the case of private loans, the student is typically the primary borrower and is responsible for repaying the loan. Most students require a creditworthy co-signer, such as a parent. Unlike Federal Direct PLUS Loans for parents, both the student and the co-signer (if student borrower fails to make payments), are responsible for repayment of a private student loan.

Here are some tools to help you quickly see differences in some of the student loan options that may be available to you:

  • Maine Private Education Loan Network Lender Comparison Tables
  • Federal Direct (Parent/Grad) PLUS Loans vs. Maine Private Education Loan Network Loans comparison chart
  • Federal Student Aid’s website provides information on specific types of Federal loans


Information you need to complete your application (for both the borrower and co-borrower):

  • Social security number(s)
  • Date of birth(s)
  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Current and prior addresses
  • Monthly incomes
  • Housing costs
  • Employment information – employer name, address, phone, paystub, if self-employed or higher income you may need tax form