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Not all student loans are the same

While for federal loans there is only one lender, the federal government, if you are researching alternative loan sources or obtained a loan prior to July 1, 2010, shop around, just like you would for any major purchase. Do your own research to see who offers the best product for the best price. Lenders differ in the service provided, the borrower benefits, the cost of originating the loan, and other factors.

Talk with the financial aid officer at your college for more information about applying for student loans and visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to learn more about choosing a loan that's right for you.

Josh Stacey is a university student in Kansas. He says he wasn't satisfied with the information provided by his financial aid office, so he conducted his own research to figure out where he could get the best rate. He discovered that he could get a much better interest rate by having his parents co-sign a loan.

"At first they didn't want to co-sign at all, but I showed them several different options. It was the only way I could get money myself that wasn't at a higher interest rate," he says.