A public or private loan offered to students and families to help pay for education-related expenses, such as college tuition, room and board and textbooks. Public loans generally carry lower interest rates than private loans. Student loans usually don’t have to be paid back until the student completes his or her education, but they can never be erased via bankruptcy. Some student loans to low-income students are subsidized by the federal government, which pays the interest while the student is in school and for six months afterward, thus erasing those interest payments. The interest on unsubsidized loans must be repaid immediately, but payments can be deferred until the student leaves school.