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Credit Union Student Loans vs. Other Student Loan Options

A college education can open many doors but the question everyone asks is, how are you going to pay for it? Maybe your family was able to set aside a college fund for you. Maybe you secured a scholarship or grant.

But no matter what your situation may be, it's likely you'll still have gaps when it comes to paying for all of your tuition and expenses. In that case, you've got the choice to apply for a federal loan or a private loan. So, why not both?

Best Reward Offers Student Loans

Your local credit union may not be the first place you think of when you're deciding how to finance your college education, but Best Reward does offer student loans!

Best Reward partners with Sallie Mae®, so they can provide you with competitive interest rates, generous terms, and flexible repayment options.

Credit union student loans combine the best of both worlds: you get to apply for your student loan through your local credit union, which you know and trust, while also gaining access to the benefits of a private lending institution.

Credit Union Student Loans vs. Other Options

Going to college is all about choices. Which school to apply for? In-state or out-of-state? What field to study? What subjects to focus on? And, of course, how you'll fund it.

Here are the most common ways to pay for a college education:

Credit Union Student Loans

Your local credit union is a great choice when it comes to financing your student loan. Partnering with a well-regulated federal institution means your credit union can offer you a suite of student loans to suit your exact goals.

Best Reward student loans may include:

  • Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduate Students. Comes with super low rates.
  • Parent Loan. So your parent or guardian can take the loan out on your behalf.
  • Graduate Loans. Choose your specialty including Law School, Medical School, M.B.A. programs, and more. 

A great feature of Best Reward’s student loans is that you get three repayment options to help you while you're studying, as well as in the grace period that follows. Grace periods are about six months long and give you time to find a job and start earning after you finish college.

Best Reward student loan repayment options may include:

  • Deferred payment. You pay nothing until your schooling is complete and the grace period has ended.
  • $25 Fixed Repayment. You pay $25 a month while you're at school and in the grace period.
  • Interest Repayment. You pay interest on the loan while you're studying and in the grace period, but nothing toward the principal.

Traditional Bank Student Loans

Most of the well-known big banks in the U.S no longer offer student loans. You might find a bank in your area that offers a student loan if you're studying within the state. If you choose a major financial institution, make sure its rates and conditions are competitive before signing on.

Read More: Banks vs. Credit Unions: Understand the Differences

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans come under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. With these loans, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. There are four types and they each have different eligibility:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans. Eligible undergraduate students must show they need financial help.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Eligible undergrads don't need to prove they need financial help.
  • Direct PLUS Loans. Graduate or professional students, and parents of dependent undergraduate students, can get help with education expenses not otherwise covered. A credit check is required.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans. Combines all eligible federal student loans into one loan.

Institutional Student Loans

These loans may come directly from your own university, college, or other educational institution. The interest rates tend to vary significantly from school to school, ranging from 0% to 9% with no standardized requirements. So be sure to read the fine print before you sign up.


The great news about grants is, you don't need to pay them back unless you pull out of your planned study program. The bad news is, you must meet the criteria to qualify.

Grants can come from the federal government, your state government, your college, a private company, or a non-profit organization. They may be based on where you live, what you're studying, or certain personal information. 


Like grants, scholarships are basically free money and they may come from a variety of sources and be awarded for a wide range of reasons.

Many are merit-based, meaning you need to achieve a certain level of grades or specific academic successes to win the award. Others aim to encourage underrepresented groups to study a particular subject and/or at a particular institution. 

Private Funding

If you're fortunate, your parents, grandparents, or other members of your family may have set aside a college fund for you. This means you'll be well on your way to paying for your college education.

But some study programs, like medical school or law school, are very expensive. Living costs quickly add up, too. So it could be that your college fund gives you a good start and you still need additional financial support. 

The Bottom Line on Students Loans

Like many of your fellow college students, you may find you end up using a combination of all your financing options to pay for your college education; and that's ok!

A great idea is to add up your tuition and living expenses. Deduct any amount you might have in a college fund. Check your eligibility for any federal loans, scholarships, and grants. Then fill the gap with a low-interest student loan from Best Reward FCU.

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