Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Real Stories

Student Loans

Materials Needed: internet access to financial aid websites such as: http://www.fafsa.ed/gov/

The facilitator should begin this activity by stating the following:
In the program segment, "Digging Out of Debt," Donald Faison says, "Tuition is at least two-and-a-half times what it was when our parents went to college. So even if you have a job while you're in school, a student loan may be the only way you can pay your bills."

Next, ask these questions:

  1. What options are available for a student to finance postsecondary education?
  2. What is the difference between a grant and a loan?

Then say: Assume that you have been accepted into a postsecondary educational program. You now have the task of researching all available options for obtaining student loans. Include the following vocabulary in your research:

VOCABULARY: Deferment, Federal Family Education Loan, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Forbearance, Grant, Income sensitive payment, PLUS Loans, Signature Student Loan, Stafford Loans, Subsidized loan, Unsubsidized loan, William D. Ford Direct Loan

Use the Internet to obtain data from a variety of sources pertaining to eligibility, fees, interest rates, payment schedule, benefits, etc.

Facilitator Tip: You could suggest that participants begin their research by checking this site: http://www.fafsa.ed/gov/

After compiling data, participants or groups should be directed to prepare a visual presentation on student loan options. Terms listed above should be included in each presentation. The facilitator should choose how to utilize participants' visual presentations.

Facilitator should conclude this activity with a discussion based on the following:

  1. Financial expert Peter Bielagus talks about student loans. What advice does he give?
  2. What is the difference between a subsidized and an unsubsidized loan?
  3. What advantages do a private bank loans have over government loans? What advantages do government loans have over private bank loans?
  4. If you obtain a loan to finance a postsecondary education, what are the repayment options?
  5. Using what you have learned from this activity, what type of loan(s) would you recommend to individuals in the following circumstances:
    • recent high school graduate living in a two income household
    • independent young person living alone in an apartment
    • single parent attending postsecondary school part time
      (facilitator may add other scenarios of his/her choosing)
  6. Apply the information from this activity to your own life circumstances. Evaluate the type(s) of loan that is best suited to your own financial circumstances.

Facilitator Tip: The strategy outlined in this activity speaks to the historical ways in which students obtained loans. Should these methods change, the activity content would have to be adjusted accordingly.