Students have the option to borrow private loans directly from lenders to help finance the cost of their education. There are many options available so it is important to do some preliminary research and to know that all loans are not equal. Pay special attention to interest rates, fees, credit scoring, and co-signing requirements. But first, before you look at private loans, make sure that you have exhausted all possibilities for federal and state financial aid programs. Exploring your options now may save you time and money in the future.