Borrowing for College. Table of contents. A guide to federal loans for higher education

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1 Borrowing for College A gide to federal loans for higher edcation Table of contents Edcation loan basics 2 Applying for edcation loans 3 Repaying edcation loans 3 Controlling edcation loan debt 5 Glossary of edcation loan terms 6 If yo re considering taking ot a loan to pay for yor or yor child s higher edcation, yo re in good company. Loans accont for more than 40 percent of all financial aid dollars received by college stdents. Approximately six ot of every 10 stdents who received a bachelor s degree borrowed to pay at least some of their college expenses. Most stdents who borrowed to earn their degrees believe that stdent loans were crcial to their being able to prse higher edcation. New federal stdent loans come from the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. Direct Loans are fnded directly by the federal government. Federal stdent loans offer several benefits. Interest rates typically are below the rates charged for other types of credit, and federal loans also offer extremely flexible repayment terms. Nonetheless, like most debts, federal stdent loans mst be paid back with interest. This pblication offers gidance on applying for, managing and repaying two types of federal edcation loans: Direct Sbsidized and Unsbsidized loans and PLUS loans. For more information, visit USA Fnds website

2 Edcation loan basics Direct Sbsidized and Unsbsidized loans Yo may qalify for a Sbsidized or Unsbsidized loan if yo: Are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen. Have a high school diploma or its eqivalent. Enroll at least half time in a postsecondary instittion that participates in the Direct Loan Program. Sbsidized loans are available to ndergradate stdents who meet certain financial need criteria. If yo qalify, the federal government will pay the interest on the loan while yo are in school at least half time and dring periods when yo are athorized to defer yor loan payments. Note: De to changes in federal law, ndergradate stdents borrowing for the first time on or after Jly 1, 2013, may qalify for this interest sbsidy for no more than 150 percent of the length of the stdent s crrent edcational program. Unsbsidized loans are available to ndergradate, gradate and professional stdents regardless of financial need. Yo are responsible for the interest that accmlates on an nsbsidized loan from the date the fnds are disbrsed ntil the fnds are paid in fll. Yo have the option to pay the interest dring school or postpone payment. If yo postpone payment, the interest will be added to yor principal balance. This addition of interest to yor principal balance is known as capitalization. Federal law specifies annal loan limits on Direct Sbsidized and Unsbsidized loans based on yor year in college and yor dependency stats. (See Glossary, on page 6, for definitions of dependent and independent stdents.) If yo are a dependent ndergradate stdent, yo can borrow p to the following amonts each year: $5,500 if yo are a first-year stdent enrolled in a program of stdy that is at least a fll academic year. (Up to $3,500 may be in sbsidized loans.) $6,500 if yo are a second-year stdent enrolled in a program of stdy that is at least a fll academic year. (Up to $4,500 may be in sbsidized loans.) $7,500 if yo are enrolled in yor third or sbseqent year of a program of stdy that is at least a fll academic year. (Up to $5,500 may be in sbsidized loans.) If yo are an independent ndergradate stdent or a dependent stdent whose parents are nable to obtain a Direct PLUS loan, yo may be able to borrow p to the following amonts each year: $9,500 if yo are a first-year stdent enrolled in a program of stdy that is at least a fll academic year. (Up to $3,500 may be in sbsidized loans.) $10,500 if yo are a second-year stdent enrolled in a program of stdy that is at least a fll academic year. (Up to $4,500 may be in sbsidized loans.) $12,500 if yo are enrolled in yor third or sbseqent year of a program of stdy that is at least a fll academic year. (Up to $5,500 may be in sbsidized loans.) If yo are a gradate or professional stdent, yo may borrow p to the following amont each year: $20,500. (Higher limits may apply for stdents preparing for certain health professions.) In addition to annal loan limits, the total otstanding amont of Direct Sbsidized and Unsbsidized loans that yo owe may not exceed the following aggregate limits: $31,000 no more than $23,000 of which may be in sbsidized loans for dependent ndergradate stdents. $57,500 no more than $23,000 of which may be in sbsidized loans for independent ndergradate stdents and dependent stdents whose parents are nable to borrow a PLUS loan. $138,500 for gradate or professional stdents. (Higher limits may apply for stdents preparing for certain health professions.) These amonts inclde any balance of a Direct Sbsidized or Unsbsidized loan that is inclded in a Direct Consolidation loan. Direct PLUS loans Yo may qalify to take ot a PLUS loan if yo are: The parent of a dependent ndergradate stdent enrolled at least half time at a postsecondary instittion that participates in the Direct Loan Program. A gradate or professional stdent enrolled at least half time at a postsecondary instittion that participates in the Direct Loan Program. Yo and in the case of a PLUS loan taken ot by a parent, the dependent child for whom yo are obtaining the loan mst be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens. To qalify to borrow a PLUS loan, a parent mst be the stdent s birth parent, adoptive parent or stepparent (if the stepparent s income and assets were taken into accont when calclating the stdent s Expected Family Contribtion). The parent applying for the loan is responsible for repaying the loan. Parents may take ot a PLUS loan for more than one dependent stdent at a time, althogh a separate promissory note is reqired for each stdent. PLUS loans are available withot regard to financial need. Applicants may borrow p to the stdent s fll cost of attendance, less any other financial aid. To qalify for a PLUS loan, yor credit will be checked to verify that yo do not have an adverse credit history. Interest rates and fees Effective for loans first disbrsed Jly 1, 2015, throgh Jne 30, 2016, the interest rate on new Direct Sbsidized and Unsbsidized loans is 4.29 percent for ndergradate borrowers. The interest rate for new Unsbsidized loans for gradate and professional stdent-borrowers is 5.84 percent. The interest rate on new Direct PLUS loans is 6.84 percent. Origination fees will be dedcted from the amont yo borrow. These origination fees are sed to offset the administrative costs of the federal stdent loan program. If yo are a member of the U.S Armed Forces serving on active dty, the interest rate on federal stdent loans yo obtained since Jly 1, 2008, bt prior to yor military service, is limited to 6 percent. 2

3 Yo mst reqest this interest rate limitation from yor loan servicers. If yo are serving in a hostile area that qalifies yo for special pay, yo may also qalify to have interest on yor Direct Loans waived for p to 60 months Applying for edcation loans To qalify for Direct Sbsidized and Unsbsidized or PLUS loans, yo first mst complete the Free Application for Federal Stdent Aid. This form also is sed to determine yor eligibility for other federal financial aid programs, as well as for many state and instittional sorces of financial aid. Yo shold sbmit the FAFSA after Jan. 1 preceding the academic year that yo re interested in attending college. Most stdents and parents complete the FAFSA on the Web at Information yo spply on the FAFSA is sed to calclate yor Expected Family Contribtion, or EFC. The financial aid office of the college or niversity that yo plan to attend will compare yor EFC against the school s cost of attendance to determine yor financial need. The financial aid staff then will tailor an aid package, which may inclde grants, work-stdy and loans to meet yor financial need. Becase loans mst be repaid with interest, yo shold exhast all other sorces of free financial aid before taking ot a loan. If yo are a first-time Direct Sbsidized, Unsbsidized or PLUS loan borrower and yor school determines yo are eligible for a Direct Loan, yo will be asked to sign a Master Promissory Note. The MPN is a legally binding contract whereby yo promise to repay the loan. In many cases, yo will be able to take ot mltiple loans throghot yor college career by signing one MPN. By signing the MPN, yo promise to repay all of these loans. Yo may be able to sign the MPN online sing an electronic signatre. If yo take ot Sbsidized or Unsbsidized and PLUS loans, yo will be asked to sign separate promissory notes for each type of loan. Repaying edcation loans Becase yo mst repay yor federal edcation loans, make plans for loan repayment before yor first payment de date. Here are some steps to take dring the varios stages of the loan cycle: In-school period While yo are in school, keep track of all of yor loans and the total amont that yo have borrowed. Keep all loan docments and other financial aid information in one file to refer to in the ftre. Yo also shold consider how mch yo can afford to borrow based on an estimate of yor initial income following gradation. Use the table at the right to estimate the maximm amont of edcation debt yo can comfortably afford to repay based on yor prospective income. Althogh stdents are not reqired to make payments of loan principal on Sbsidized, Unsbsidized or PLUS loans while they are in school at least half time, if yo have Unsbsidized or PLUS loans, yo may make arrangements to pay the interest on yor loans while yo are in school. If yo don t select this option, the interest will be added to yor loan principal before yor loans enter repayment. This capitalized interest will add to the cost of yor loan. Parent-borrowers of PLUS loans also may choose to delay loan payments while they are or their child is in school at least half time and for p to six months after they or the stdent cease to be enrolled at least half time. Interest will contine to accmlate dring this period, however. 3 What s the maximm stdent loan debt yo can afford? Use this table to estimate the maximm amont of stdent loan debt yo can comfortably afford to repay based on yor expected starting salary. Annal Income Range of Maximm Affordable Stdent Loan Debt $15,000 $8,690 $10,862 $20,000 $11,586 $14,483 $25,000 $14,483 $18,103 $30,000 $17,379 $21,724 $35,000 $20,276 $25,345 $40,000 $23,172 $28,965 $45,000 $26,069 $32,586 $50,000 $28,965 $36,207 $75,000 $43,448 $54,310 $100,000 $57,931 $72,413 Range of maximm affordable stdent loan debt assmes monthly payments do not exceed 8 percent to 10 percent of yor gross monthly income, level payments over a term of 120 months and a constant interest rate of 6.8 percent. Grace period Yo are not reqired to make any payments on Sbsidized or Unsbsidized loans ntil six months after yo leave school or drop below half-time enrollment. New PLUS loans also qalify for a sixmonth post-enrollment deferment period before repayment begins. Use this six-month period to develop a strategy for repaying yor loans. Consider yor monthly loan payment and yor gross monthly income. If yor payment is within 8 to 10 percent of this monthly income, yo probably wold be better off selecting the standard repayment option. If payments represent a higher percentage of yor income, yo shold consider one of the flexible repayment options or loan consolidation.

4 Sbsidized, Unsbsidized and PLUS loans may be repaid sing the following options: Standard repayment. Typically, this is the least expensive option in terms of total interest costs. Many borrowers choose this plan. Also known as level repayment, this option provides a fixed monthly payment of at least $50 over a period of p to 10 years. Gradated repayment. Monthly payments start low and increase over time. Gradated repayment may be a good choice if yo crrently have limited income bt expect higher earnings in the ftre. Unless yo consolidate several federal edcation loans, the maximm repayment term nder this option is 10 years. Total interest costs are higher nder this option than with standard repayment. Extended repayment. If yo have an otstanding balance of more than $30,000 on eligible federal stdent loans and qalify for this option, yo may redce yor monthly payment amont by spreading payments over a period of p to 25 years. Yo may choose to make payments over this extended period nder a level or gradated schedle. Becase payments are stretched over a longer term, total interest costs will be significantly higher than with other repayment plans. Income-based repayment. Yo may qalify for this repayment option if yor loan payments dring the year exceed 15 percent of yor discretionary income. Under this plan, yo may limit yor payments to 15 percent of yor discretionary income. In addition, yor payments may be less than accring interest, yo may qalify to pay back yor loans over a period of p to 25 years, and yo may qalify for forgiveness of any remaining amont yo owe after 25 years of repayment. Beginning Jly 1, 2014, new borrowers may qalify for income-based payments of no more than 10 percent of their discretionary income and are eligible for loan forgiveness after 20 years of repayment. Parent PLUS loans do not qalify for income-based repayment. Income-contingent repayment. This option is available for Direct Loans, except Direct PLUS loans to parents. Yor payments are based on yor income, family size and otstanding loan balance. Payments may be less than the accring interest. If yo haven t flly repaid yor loan after 25 years, yo may qalify to have the npaid amont forgiven. Pay as Yo Earn. Payments are limited to 10 percent of yor discretionary income, and yo may qalify for loan forgiveness after 20 years of repayment. The option is available only to Direct Loan borrowers except for those with Direct PLUS loans to parents or Direct Consolidation loans that repaid a parent PLUS loan who were new borrowers as of Oct. 1, 2007, and received a Direct Loan disbrsement since Oct. 1, Loan consolidation. Consolidation permits yo to bndle mltiple federal edcation loans into one new loan with the benefit of a convenient single monthly loan payment. Depending on yor total otstanding loan balance, yo also may be able to extend yor repayment period and lower yor monthly payments. Loan consolidation is not the best choice for every borrower. Yo are likely to pay more total interest becase yo are extending yor payment period and making smaller payments over a longer term. Repayment Yor first payment will be de within 60 days after the end of yor grace or post-enrollment deferment period. In advance of yor first payment date, yo will receive important information, inclding directions for sbmitting yor payments, yor estimated loan balance, yor payment schedle inclding the payment de dates and yor repayment options. Yo also can prepay all or part of yor federal edcation loan at any time with no financial penalty. A key consideration for yo dring the repayment of yor loan is to consistently make yor payments on time. Yo will establish a positive credit history showing on-time payments. Yo mst notify yor loan servicer if yo move, change yor phone nmber, change yor name, retrn to school or withdraw from school, or if the address of yor employer changes. If yo experience difficlties that prevent yo from making yor loan payment at any time dring yor repayment period, contact yor loan servicer immediately and ask for assistance. Federal edcation loans offer very flexible terms for borrowers who are having loan payment problems, and yo may qalify for one of the following options: Deferment. If yo are nemployed, facing certain economic hardships, on active dty in the military, or retrning to school for additional stdies, yo may qalify for a deferment. Eligible borrowers are entitled to defer principal payments, in the case of nemployment or economic hardship, for p to a total of three years dring the term of their loans. There is no maximm time limit for an in-school deferment or deferment for certain types of military service. Forbearance. If yo don t meet the standards for deferment bt still need payment relief, yo may ask yor lender or servicer for forbearance. Forbearance permits a borrower to redce or postpone payments or extend the time for making payments, sally at the discretion of the lender. Forbearance reqests typically are granted for periods of p to 12 months. Interest will contine to accre on yor loans dring a period of forbearance. Flexible repayment options or loan consolidation. Yo may be able to redce yor monthly payment by reqesting a change in yor repayment plan or by applying for a Direct Consolidation loan. Loan forgiveness. Only in rare cases will all or a portion of a Sbsidized, Unsbsidized or PLUS loan be discharged, relieving yo of any frther obligation to pay the remaining balance. For example, yor obligation to repay yor loan may be discharged if yo meet one of the following conditions: Yo die, or the dependent for whom yo took ot a PLUS loan dies. Yo meet the criteria for total and permanent disability. Yo prove nde hardship before a bankrptcy cort. Yo are nable to complete yor stdies becase yor school closes. Yor school falsely certified yor eligibility for a loan or failed to make a refnd owed to yor lender, or yo are the victim of identity theft and someone else obtained a loan in yor name. 4

5 In addition, there are federal loan forgiveness provisions for borrowers in certain income-driven repayment plans, certain teachers and certain pblic service occpations. Yo mst repay yor loans even if yo don t complete yor stdies, if yo fail to complete yor program of stdy in the reglar period for program completion, if yo are dissatisfied with the qality of yor edcation, or if yo re nable to find employment after yo gradate. Loan defalt If yo fail to repay yor loans, yo ltimately will end p in defalt. Loan defalt reslts in the following conseqences: Yor entire otstanding loan balance becomes de and payable immediately. Yor defalt will be reported to national consmer reporting agencies and will affect yor ability to obtain other consmer credit for p to seven years. Yor federal and state income tax refnds or other government benefit payments may be withheld. Yo will lose deferment, loan forgiveness and repayment options. Yor wages may be garnished. Yo will be ineligible to receive any frther federal and state financial aid. Yo may lose or be denied a state professional license. Yo may be sed. Becase of these severe conseqences, avoid defalt and work with yor lender or servicer in the event that yo enconter payment problems. Resorces to assist borrowers As yo repay yor stdent loan, yo shold be aware of additional resorces to assist yo. Yo can get information abot yor federal edcation loans and other sorces of financial aid by visiting the website of the National Stdent Loan Data System at or by calling the Federal Stdent Aid Information Center toll-free at (800) 4-FED-AID or TDD (800) If yo have a dispte regarding a federal edcation loan, and yo ve been nable to resolve the isse, yo may contact the U.S. Department of Edcation s Federal Stdent Aid Ombdsman s office at (877) Controlling edcation loan debt Don t leave college with excessive edcation debt. These tips may help yo keep yor stdent loan debt affordable. Borrow only what yo need to cover the cost of edcation. Pay the interest on edcation loans as it accres. Enroll in a tition payment plan, which lets yo pay in installments rather than a lmp sm. Check with yor school to learn if it offers a tition payment plan. Bdget to control expenses. Inclde ot-of-pocket edcation costs as well as expenses for transportation, personal items and entertainment. Find ways to ct costs, sch as by bying sed textbooks, sing pblic or school-provided transportation, eating ot less, and finding a roommate to share expenses. Always ask yorself before bying: Is this something I really need? If yo don t know, then yo sally can skip the prchase. Consider working part time. Plan yor work schedle so yor academic work will not sffer, and investigate camps workstdy opportnities. Determine how mch edcation debt yo can afford to repay by estimating yor ftre earnings. Try to keep monthly edcation loan payments to less than 8 to 10 percent of yor expected gross monthly income. Complete yor degree on time. Yo will accmlate more edcation debt if yo extend yor school enrollment. Keep a file of yor edcation loan docments and other financial aid papers. 5

6 FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Stdent Aid is the form that the stdent (and parents of dependent stdents) mst complete to apply for federal financial assistance, inclding loans. Forbearance. The period dring which a borrower is permitted to temporarily cease making payments or redce the amont of the payments. The borrower is responsible for the interest that accres on the loan dring the forbearance period. In many cases, forbearance is granted at the lender s discretion; in other instances, borrowers are entitled to forbearance. Grace Period. The six-month period that begins the day after a Sbsidized or Unsbsidized loan borrower ceases to be enrolled at least half time at an eligible school. Dring the grace period, payments of principal are not reqired. Certain PLUS loan borrowers also may defer payments for a six-month period after they, or the stdent for whose benefit a parent took ot a PLUS loan, cease at least half-time enrollment. Glossary of edcation loan terms Capitalization. The addition of accred interest to the principal balance of the loan. Defalt. A borrower s failre to flfill the agreement signed when taking ot a federal edcation loan. For example, yo wold be considered in defalt if yo failed to make yor monthly federal stdent loan payment when de for a period of at least 270 days. Deferment. A period dring repayment in which the borrower is not reqired to make payments of loan principal. Dependent Stdent. A stdent who does not meet the eligibility reqirements for an Independent Stdent (see definition). Dependency stats affects the maximm amont that a stdent may borrow in Sbsidized and Unsbsidized loans and whether a parent may take ot a PLUS loan on behalf of the stdent. Disbrsement. The transfer of the loan proceeds to a school. Independent Stdent. A stdent who meets one or more of the following criteria: is at least 24 years old by Dec. 31 of the financial aid award year; is an orphan, in foster care, or ward of the cort; is an emancipated minor or in a legal gardianship; is an naccompanied yoth who is homeless; is serving on active dty in the Armed Forces for prposes other than training; is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces; is a gradate or professional stdent; is married; has legal dependents other than a spose; is a stdent for whom the school s financial aid administrator determines and docments the stdent s independent stdent stats based on the administrator s professional jdgment of the stdent s nsal circmstances. Interest. The charge made to a borrower for se of a lender s money. Lender. The organization that fnds edcation loans for stdents and parents. For Direct Loans, the U.S. Department of Edcation is the lender. Master Promissory Note. A legally binding agreement nder which the borrower promises to repay one or more loans. Principal. The amont of money borrowed pls any capitalized interest. Servicer. An organization that is responsible for collecting yor loan payments, managing yor reqests for deferment or forbearance, and responding to yor inqiries abot yor federal stdent loans. Discharge. The release of a borrower from all or a portion of a loan obligation. A nonprofit corporation, USA Fnds works to enhance postsecondary edcation preparedness, access and sccess by providing and spporting financial and other valed services. MKCM United Stdent Aid Fnds, Inc. All rights reserved. 6

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