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Creative Alternatives to Student Loans

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A look at some newer ways to address the problem of student-loan debt.

By Karen Wallace

Student loans, both federal and private, are an essential way that many students fund their higher education needs. According to data from the College Board, the average cost of a year of tuition plus room and board for an in-state student at a public university was over $19,000, and private college was nearly $44,000. And according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, the average 2016 graduate has $37,000 in student-loan debt.

Federal loans, both subsidized and unsubsidized, have low fixed interest rates and do not require a credit check. But for some students, they’re not enough: The yearly limits are $5,500, $6,500, and $7,500 per year for the first, second, and third years (and beyond) of undergraduate college education, respectively. Only $3,500, $4,500, and $5,500, respectively, of that yearly amount can be in subsidized loans, the terms of which involve the U.S. Department of Education paying the interest for you if you’re in school at least half-time and for a limited grace period after you leave school.

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Posted in Education Planning