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Now that the May 1 deadline has passed and high school students have settled on their choice of college, it is time to begin the process of finalizing how to pay for it. Many financial aid packages include student loans, but it is important to understand that there is a difference between federal student loans and private student loans. Since the federal student loan process does not start until June, now is a good time to learn about the options available from some of the private student loan lenders.

Some lenders can make it frustratingly complex to learn about all of their options, but Discover was recently recognized by The Wall Street Journal for embarking on the next generation of customer service. Discover Financial Services earned a spot on a list of the top business technology innovators in the U.S. by developing a new application that provides a fully comprehensive, customer-centric view. It also supplies account managers with better data and up-to-the-minute information, allowing them to provide superior customer service.

Another example of Discover’s efforts to become more customer-centric is its newly-designed student loans website. They have included an easily-understandable chart to compare private student loan options right on the home page. The Discover site allows students and parents to easily compare options among its private student loans and those available from Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo.

The three options do seem comparable on some points such as covering up to 100% of school-certified college and graduate school costs, offering competitive rates, getting an interest rate reduction when you sign up for automatic payments, not requiring payments while in school at least half-time, offering a free customized scholarship search, and applying in as little as fifteen minutes or less. But there are a few areas where Discover Student Loans stand out.

The first is that they have a zero fees offer which includes no loan application fees, no origination fees, and no late fees. Secondly they have just instituted a Good Student Rewards Program, where students who get a 3.0 GPA or better are eligible for 1% cash reward on each new student loan. Finally they are the only lender on the list to offer 100% US-Based Student Loan Specialists who are available anytime, day or night.

Knowledge is Power When it Comes to Student Loans

When the federal loan process starts in June, Discover also has a chart which will help students and parents compare federal student loans to their private student loans. You can make wiser borrowing choices when you have a full understanding of all these differences. Talk to a professional college financial aid advisor who can help you sort through the entire financial aid process including grants, work-study programs, scholarships, and student loans to find the best combination that fits your unique financial situation.

If you need help understanding your college financial aid opportunities, or would like more information on federal and private student loans, contact College Financial Aid Advisors (CFAA).

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