Some lenders advertise their products as a way to pay for college, but these aren’t technically student loans.

For unsuspecting students, that could lead to unnecessarily high costs and a lack of consumer protection.

The nonprofit Student Borrower Protection Center has dubbed this the “shadow education finance market,” and almost one-third of student borrowers may have debt from it.

To avoid being left in the dark by a loan, students should understand what they’re borrowing and if that investment will pay off.

That’s especially true if they’re attending non-accredited or for-profit programs, where shadow lending may be more common.

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