The volume of private student loans has grown more than four-fold in the last seven years as students struggle to bridge the widening gap between college costs and federal loans.

The average yearly cost of attending a public four-year college was $18,110 from 2013 to 2014, nearly double the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board 20 years earlier after adjusting for inflation, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Yet federal Stafford College Loans provide only about $5,500 to $7,500 per year to students who are dependents. Independent students can borrow more under the federal loans.

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