Student Loans: Before You Sign On The Dotted Line

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School loansThe number of students expected to take out loans for the 2011-2012 academic year has almost doubled since 2000, according to FinAid.org.  And private lenders, eager to meet the growing demand, are also on the rise. Indeed, some 24 private lenders are now offering student loans—up from only 12 in 2008.

Given that many lenders may not always have you and your family’s best long-term interests at heart, however, experts say it’s more important now than ever to be mindful of the oftentimes overwhelming pages and pages of “fine print” accompanying many student loan agreements.  

For instance, a common misconception about student loans is that borrowers can elect to file for bankruptcy if they’re unable to repay.  But according to data from the Education Credit Management Corporation, a student loan guarantor, your chances of being granted a bankruptcy discharge are slim to none.  Of the 72,000 federal student loan borrowers who sought bankruptcy relief in 2008, only 29—less than a quarter of 1%—of all applicants had all or a portion of their loans discharged.

“You’re more likely to die of cancer or in a car crash than you are to get your loans discharged in bankruptcy,” Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org and Fastweb.com, told SmartMoney.

Read more at SmartMoney.com.