How to Loan: Guided Tour from a Sophomore

By Emily Pizza, Opinions Editor

In case you were wondering, Kalamazoo College is far too expensive for an average family to pay for, including my own. With my scholarships, my parents have managed to cover tuition, but it became clear very quickly that room and board was up to me to cover.

Even though I spent the summer working two jobs, I still wasn’t even close to earning a quarters worth of room and board. Thus, I decided to apply for outside loans.

As much as I would like to say my experience was organized and thought out, turns out I didn’t have the slightest idea how to apply for loans.

First of all, don’t be uninformed like I was. Know that any federal loans you received should be used, because you will not find a better interest rate, I promise. Even if the loans don’t cover half of what you need, they will decrease the interest you have to pay in the long run.

After almost losing those loans and having to take out everything at an 8 percent interest rate, I can now say I truly appreciate them for all they are worth.

Another thing, start early. And by early, and I don’t mean a month before school starts. I applied at the start of August and my loans are still not set in stone yet. Trust me, the last thing you want to be doing is running out of Chemistry class to answer a call from your bank telling you they haven’t received your promissory note, even though you’ve sent it three times already.

Before applying for any loans, though, shop around. One of the biggest mistakes I made was almost getting a loan with a 9 percent interest rate because I thought it was the best I could do. Search through at least three different companies before making a final decision.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask an adult for help. As great as the internet is, oftentimes the information isn’t entirely true, go figure. After talking through my plan of action with my mom, I felt much calmer about everything.

Finally, don’t let loans stress you out (too much). If you are afraid of anything going wrong, call customer service (they are all pretty nice, for the most part), and let them help you find a solution. The worst that can happen is you spend a few minutes listening to some horrible elevator music, but who knows, maybe you’ll make it your new ringtone.