Choosing the right student loan is crucial. It will ultimately determine how much debt you graduate with, how much you have to pay back every month and how much accrued interest will get added on to your total loan over the term of the loan.

Unfortunately, choosing the right student loan is easier said than done. Every loan comes with several variables, which can make the whole choosing process extremely challenging.

To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a handy checklist of things you must compare/contract when researching different student loan options so that you make the right choice:

Interest Rates

You will naturally want to select a loan that has the lowest interest rate. The lower the rate of interest, the lower the total cost of the loan. However, while this is a key consideration, you must be careful not to choose a loan based solely on the interest rate. There are a few other factors that will also have an impact on the total amount that you will have to pay back over the life of the loan.

Monthly Payments & Repayment Plan

When it comes to paying back your student loans, most lenders offer several different options. In a standard repayment plan your principle amount plus interest is spread equally over a period of 10 years. Then there are other plans in which you start out with lower monthly payments, which then increase over the years. Other payment plans are pegged to your monthly income so you only pay a percentage of whatever you earn every month.

The amount you have to pay back every month will depend on both the rate of interest of the loan and the repayment plan that you choose. Before you commit to any loan, you must take time to calculate what your monthly payments will be and whether you will be able to afford it based on the typical starting salary in the career path you have chosen.

Origination Fee

This is one thing that most borrowers overlook. The origination fee is typically a one-time fee that lenders charge you at the outset to cover the cost of processing the loan. They add this amount to your loan and it is then considered as part of your total loan. This means you will pay interest on this origination fee too.

You must compare origination fees that every lender is adding on to your loan as this could add substantially to the total cost of the loan.

Customer Reviews

Today we check customer reviews before making any major purchase and taking a student loan definitely qualifies as one. Before you finalize an agreement with any lender, go online and read reviews by students who have borrowed from that lender. Are the majority of students happy with their experience or did they feel like they got a raw deal?

Comparing the interest rates, repayment plans, origination fees and customer reviews will help you make the right choice when selecting a student loan.

And we can help! College Raptor has a free-to-use Student Loan Finder that can help you compare lenders and interest rates side by side, so you can discover the ideal student loan for you!