BECU studentsThe college years are such an exciting time in life; however, it comes with a steep price tag. Whether you’re a new high school graduate, or you’ve paid your dues in the workforce and are opting for a career change later in life, college costs a pretty penny. The average student paid around $22,826 to attend an in-state public college during the 2013-2014 academic year, according to College Data.

U.S. News reports, college attendance is rapidly growing, with enrollment rates being at 26 percent in 1980 and 41 percent in 2012. The vast majority of students need help meeting the high cost of a college education. When you combine personal savings accounts, college savings plans, grants, and scholarships, most students are still left with a hefty bill and nearly empty pockets. Enter student loans. In 2011, CNN Money notes two-thirds of all graduating students had used student loans toward their college tuition bills. Previously, a student loan through the Credit Union Student Choice Program via the Boeing Employees’ Credit Union was just one option that several used.

BECU no longer offers student loans but they do offer other banking products for students, such as savings and checking accounts. If you meet the following criteria, you may be eligible for a BECU membership:

The Rules of Repayment

If you have borrowed a BECU loan in the past, let’s discuss for a moment what needs to be done in order to prepare for the final details of your student loans — repayment. While repayment seems so far away when you’re signing on the dotted line to borrow the money necessary to fund your educational goals, the time will come when BECU wants to collect on your debt. Will you be ready for it? Research your options and educate yourself now on what you’ll be up against then. The last thing you want is to find yourself unable to repay your loan with limited options and zero flexibility on a creditor’s end.

New graduates often aren’t raking in the dough, and many have trouble finding employment. The National Center for Education Statistics notes 7 percent of individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree were unemployed in 2012. If you need a smaller monthly payment that works within the confines of your limited take-home pay, a graduated repayment plan may be just the ticket. For those with a loan balance under $40,000, your payments will be broken up over a 20-year time period; more than that amount is parceled out over 25 years. BECU also allows for a 0.25 percent discount for parties who sign up for automatic payments, but this doesn’t apply for those who are in deferment. You can also apply for graduated plans where the monthly amount increases over time, extended payment plans, and consolidation.

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Types of Student Loans

The Scholarship Center