US

Types Of Federal Student Loans

Students who look for financial aid during studies either go for federal student loans or private student loans. Federal student loans are offered by the US government, which are available directly through banks, student loan lenders, schools or from the Federal Family Education Loan program (FFELP). Federal loans are offered with very low interest rates, longer repayment periods and various kinds of repayment options with simpler credit requirements than private loans. In case of federal subsidized student loans, the interest is paid by the government to the financial institution while the student is enrolled as well as during a grace period. A federal loan may not be enough to cover all the expenses of the student and in that case, the student might have to take an additional private student loan. Note that the student will not get the full loan amount applied for and should only take the actual amount into account while preparing the budget.

There are different kinds of federal student loans from different institutions. Hence, it is advisable to take the guidance of parents or other financial aiding sources to decide on the type of federal direct student loan that suits the student the best.

Perkins loan option:

This loan is available for undergraduates and graduates in need at a fixed lower interest rate of five percent for a repayment period of ten years. The loan limits for undergraduates are $5,500 per year and $27,500 per lifetime. For graduate students the limit is $8,000 per year and $60,000 per lifetime (including undergraduate loans). The funds are handled directly by the school, making it easier to get the amount as soon as the student enrolls.

Stafford loan option:

This is the most common federal student loan and anyone can apply for it. It offers fixed interest rates and is available in the subsidized and unsubsidized form. When making use of the subsidized federal student loan, the government pays the interest while the student is enrolled. In the case of unsubsidized federal student loan, the student has to the pay the interest but can wait with payments until he completes his or her graduation. The interest rate for unsubsidized loans is currently at 6.8 %. Students applying for a Stafford Loan must complete the FAFSA (free application for federal student aid). Stafford Loans are available directly from the United States Department of Education through the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP). It is important to apply much earlier than the closing date for the application to avoid any last minute trouble.

PLUS loan option:

Also known as parent loan for undergraduate students. It is given to the parents of undergraduate students who are dependent and have enrolled at least half-time. This loan option requires the applicant to be free from any adverse credit experiences like bankruptcy, default etc on their credit record. These loans are offered at a fixed interest rate that is higher than the Stafford loan rate and repayment starts while the student is enrolled.

For more information on student loans check out my post about Student Loan Consolidation.

Bankruptcy And Students: Many Students Fail To Pay Off Their Debt

Young people in their early twenties, of which many are students, are becoming a fast-growing number of bankruptcy filers. Bankruptcy and students seems to be becoming a problem, and according to recent surveys, it is believed that teenagers younger than nineteen years of age own at least one credit card of their own. Also, it is reported that two thirds of undergraduate students have a minimum of one open credit card account, and it is believed that the average student graduates owes three to four thousand dollars in credit card debt along with other debts.

Managing Student Finances for the First Time May be a Reason for Defaulting

With more college students being marketed credit cards, it has even made some states enact legislation that limits solicitation to college students and recent bankruptcy reform procedures are also concerned with addressing the problem of bankruptcy and students. The reason behind bankruptcy and students becoming a big problem could lie in the fact that college students are learning to live alone and manage their own money for the first time, and thus find it hard to keep track of their credit card purchases.

According to experts, people tend to shop more with credit cards than when spending cash. When interest, late charges, increase in minimum payments are factored in, it makes for difficulty in managing finances and thus leads to bankruptcy and students becoming a growing malpractice.

Bankruptcy and students loans that are not repaid can often make a student feel as if he or she has just graduated from the school of hard knocks. Bankruptcy is not the escape route that students may be thinking of taking in order to avoid paying back government backed student loans as well as school loans backed by non-profit agencies. These loans are not discharged in a bankruptcy and have to be paid back after bankruptcy, though if a student can prove (very difficult actually) that the loan constitutes a considerable hardship, it can be got rid off without repayment.

Student loans, under normal circumstances, cannot be discharged under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. By using loopholes in government legislation, bankruptcy seems to offer an escape route to avoid paying off student loans, and the number of students that used bankruptcy to avoid paying off their debts increased dramatically over the recent past few years.

The bottom line is that it is the bankruptcy judge that has the final say, and for the lucky student, the odd bankruptcy judge may allow him or her to discharge the loan by filing for bankruptcy. Lenders too, cannot send their bills to a student who is in bankruptcy and need to wait till the case is decided. Often, it is better for the student to deal directly with the lender and find a mutually agreeable way of settling the debt, rather than going in for bankruptcy to avoid repayment.