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Friday, July 11, 2008

Is Interest Charged On Student Loans?

As there are different types of Student Loans, so the interest rates vary with the types of student loans:

Federal Student Aid Programs:

  • For Stafford Loans: Average interest rate for Stafford student loans is 6.5%. And this rate was fixed to 6.8% for the disbursed loans after July 1, 2006. The change from variable to fixed interest rate will not affect if the student has borrowed loan before July 1, 2006. The interest rate for these loans in 2007-2008 is 7.22%.

  • For PLUS Student Loans: Similar to the Stafford loans, the interest rate for PLUS student loans is also fixed for disbursement of loans after July 1, 2006 i.e. 7.90 percent for Direct PLUS Loans and 8.50 percent for FFEL PLUS Loans. For PLUS loans disbursed between July 1, 1998 and June 30, 2006, the interest rate was variable, and was specified on every year's July 1. For year 2007-2008, the variable rate for these PLUS Loans in both Direct and FFEL programs is 8.02 percent. Interest is charged on a PLUS Loan from the date of the first disbursement until the loan is paid in full.

  • PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Degree Students: PLUS loans can also be availed by graduate and professional degree students. A fixed interest rate of 8.5 percent is charged in FFEL program and 7.9 percent in the Direct Loan program.

  • Federal Perkins Loans: A low interest rate of about 5 percent loan for both undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional financial need is offered by Federal Perkins Loans.

Private Student Loans:

The fees charged by some lenders can significantly increase the cost of the loan. A loan with a relatively low interest rate but high fees can ultimately cost more than a loan with a somewhat higher interest rate and no fees i.e. 3% in fees is about the same as a 1% higher interest rate.

Graduate Student Loans

Graduate loans are popular, as students view them as an effective alternative to deal with student debt. An advantage of graduate student loans is that they are usually obtainable without a need to show stable income or offer security. This is extremely helpful, as most students do not have either of these. Graduate students loans also come at comparatively good interest rates, mainly taking into account the fact that they are totally unsecured loans. The aspect to be cautious about while opting for graduate student loans is that these loans may lock borrowers into a long-term bond with the lender that may not be the most advantageous one. In most cases, applying for graduate student loan is fast and easy and hence, it saves considerable amount of time.

Graduate loans prove to be far more expensive in comparison to student loans. These loans are usually provided on graduation, when student loans are no longer accessible. These loans help to cover the expenses of transition from student life to working life. These costs may include buying a new place to live, work clothes and other unexpected expenses.

Graduate loans can also be utilized to pay off student overdrafts, which are provided to all students as regular features of their bank accounts. The factor to be considered here is that while graduate student loans are fairly economical in comparison personal loans, they are far more expensive compared to student loans.

Individuals, who have a job lined up, may be able to borrow funds from their new manager at a far better rate. These types of loans are an alternative to graduate student loans. Another option to graduate student loans is career development loan, which is available to those studying for certain specialized qualifications such as medicine or law.

Trends illustrate that while student debt continues to increase, graduates are faring better, depending less on loans and more on salaries, to meet their needs and requirements.

By Eddie Tobey