1. You will more than likely need a cosigner. 99% of students need a co-signer because they do not have enough credit established to apply solely on their own. Once you apply you should get a credit decision immediately. If a co-signer is needed, instructions will be given on how to proceed next. If the co-signer is not approved, it will give an opportunity to apply with a different co-signer.
2. The interest rate is dependent on the co-signer's credit and may vary from lender to lender. Most lenders are requiring students to pay the interest while in school so your principal balance remains the same when your loan goes into repayment. The interest rate is variable and may go up or down on a monthly or quarterly basis depending on the prime rate as established by the lender.
3. It takes ten days minimum to process the loan from the day you complete the application to the day the lender officially approves it. Due to new federal regulations a number of disclosures must be completed by the student. You will want to make sure you stay on top of this so your loan will be processed before school begins.
4. If you are eligible for a federal student loan, such as the Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized Direct Loan or the Direct Parent PLUS loan, you should consider these loans first. More than likely the interest rate will be lower and the repayment terms are more flexible. If you do not think a parent will be approved for a PLUS based on their credit history, they should apply anyway. If the lender denies the loan, you will be eligible for an additional Unsubsidized Stafford Loan in your own name.