Connecticut Student Loans
Around 70 percent of all 2012 college grads used student loans to fund their educational goals, according to Diverse. With each passing year, the price tag that comes with a college degree inflates, and so do the loan balances of those hoping for a prosperous career that they spend years educating themselves for. Currently, the average amount of debt a graduate is expected to leave college with is in the realm of $30,000, per the Wall Street Cheat Sheet. The Project on Student Debt notes it being within an average range at $30,191 for the state of Connecticut. In total, the nation’s combined student loan debt is over $1.2 trillion, according to New York Daily News.
In the fall of 2014, there were approximately 21 million students enrolled in colleges across the nation, the National Center for Education Statistics reports. When the eager freshman sets out of their first day of classes as a college student, their accumulated loan debt is far in the distant future and the least of their worries. Nonetheless, the day comes for each and every one of them when debts must be repaid. For those who can’t repay their debts, there are options.
Financial aid for Connecticut students includes a wide variety of grants and scholarships that help to pay for a large chunk of college costs each year, but they rarely cover the entire expense of a student’s annual tuition costs. Far from the poorest state in the country, Connecticut houses some of the nation’s most affluent universities, including Yale University, which U.S. News ranks third in the country. Attending Yale will cost you a pretty penny at $45,800 per year in addition to other fees, such as room and board and textbooks. The school reports 29,610 applications were received for the 2013-2014 academic year, and only a mere 6.9 percent were accepted, with 1,359 graduating that year. Overall, U.S. News notes a 90 percent graduation rate for the Ivy League university.
Another prestigious Connecticut school, the University of Connecticut, costs $9,858 for in-state tuition and $30,038 for out-of-state tuition, as reported by the Office of Student Financial Aid Services. Newsmax notes their admission rate continues to climb with over 16,000 undergraduate students in 2010. Many hopeful graduates wonder whether or not being in-state has any effect on their financial aid status. In some aspects, yes, it does, while it doesn’t for others. Many New England schools offer discounts to out-of-state students living in other New England states. The University of Connecticut is a good example of this, offering an annual tuition rate of $17,250 to such students.
The average price of tuition for a student who is a resident of Connecticut comes out at $18,331, per Studentloan.com, whereas out-of-state students pay around $23,347. So while the price doesn’t seem like an astronomical difference, it adds up to more than $20,000 in additional tuition you would have to pay back — plus interest — for a four-year degree as an out-of-state student.
The state of Connecticut offers a few additional student loan options beyond the typical federal and private loan sectors. We’ll discuss federal options first as all students should thoroughly exhaust those options before proceeding to private loans as a source of funding. Within months following graduation, whether employed or not, graduates have to start paying on the funds they borrowed. You’ll have to do the same. The information outlined below should help you in deciding what position you want to be in at that time.
A Direct Loan through the federal government comes in two forms — subsidized and unsubsidized. The government pays the interest on the former while the student is enrolled in college while the latter doesn’t come with such perks. To be eligible, you’ll have to be enrolled at least part-time and at a school that grants degrees or certificates and accepts federal funding. In addition, only American citizens and those who have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) meet basic eligibility. Both forms of the loan carry a 3.76 percent interest rate for undergrads, while graduate student loans come with a 5.31 percent rate. As soon as you drop below half-time status or graduate from college, you’ll get six months until you’re required to start paying on your debts, but interest will still build during this time.
In 2011, 493,244 Perkins Loans were delivered to students across the nation, the U.S. Department of Education reports. These loans come in smaller packages, maxing out at $5,500 per undergraduate student and $8,000 per graduate student. How much you will get is entirely dependent on your calculated financial need.
Graduate students and those pursuing professional degrees can borrow no more than the balance they have left after all other financial aid has been applied. This includes scholarships, grants, and other loans. Another difference between these loans and others is that they require the borrower to have a good credit history. This is a negative factor for some students – in addition to the high 6.31 percent interest rate – in comparison to undergraduate loans.
Due to the majority of grad students who use these loans already having their careers in full swing and attending school on the side, repayment for these loans begins as soon as all funds have been disbursed. That being said, certain students may qualify for deferments based on an enrollment status of half-time or greater. The Parent PLUS Loan is similar in nature, but parents have the luxury of paying on interest during the enrollment term and holding off on the principal balance until six months after the student graduates or drops below half-time status — whichever comes first.
Private student loans are generally distributed through your local credit union or bank. In Connecticut specifically, the Governor M. Jodi Rell and Credit Union League of Connecticut Student Loan Program renders loans to qualifying individuals from a combined pool of funds from participating credit unions in the state. These loans carry interest rates no higher than 6 percent, Go College reports.
Interest rates are often higher among traditional private loan lenders and the repayment terms aren’t nearly as friendly. Keep that in mind when shopping for loans and remember that the government has more of a vested interest in your educational goals than a bank does.
Another loan organization is the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority. Loans through this organization should be compared with federal rates before deciding on one or the other, because sometimes the CHESLA option is actually a sounder financial decision. At the end of 2014, loan rates under CHESLA were at a fixed 6.75 percent with an annual percentage rate of 7.11-7.24 percent, which will vary as long as you have the loan. The biggest bonus of CHESLA loans is the payment plan they come with, requiring only $5.63 in payment for every $1,000 borrowed during enrollment, which increases to $10.34 per $1,000, after the six-month grace period is over, for the next 140 months.
Repaying Your Debts
Most loans will require that you begin the repayment process starting either when you graduate or whenever you drop below half-time enrollment. When you’re busy climbing the ladder of success in New England, the dollars are adding up. Often, many new graduates find themselves unable to afford the monthly payments asked of them. Many don’t even have a job. As of November 2014, the Connecticut Department of Labor stated the current unemployment rate for the state was 6.5 percent. For those who may not be making much and are often forced to work outside of their given specialty, there are income-based repayment plans available. Those who qualify can benefit from realigned monthly payments that are spread out over a long period of time in order to offer lower monthly amounts structured around how much money you make.
Don’t feel that you’re doomed if you can’t meet the amount due for the standard payment plan. An inability to pay anything at all means you’ll need to apply for a forbearance or deferment. The former is a good option for those who don’t qualify for the latter and allows monthly payments to be reduced or payments postponed entirely for up to one year. Deferment delays the need to pay on your principal balance and, for many, on the interest too.
There also plans like Pay as You Earn, which permits just that — as your income goes up, so does your monthly payment amount. Other income-stipulated plans allow for structured monthly payment amounts to be set based on the amount of money you’re making. Forgiveness and cancellation programs exist, but with strict requirements, so few make the cut.
Do You Qualify?
Eligibility criteria for any student loan — whether state or federal — include:
- Being an American citizen, U.S. National, or ineligible citizen
- Submitting a complete FAFSA
- Holding a high school diploma or GED
- Being enrolled or prepared to enroll at a school that accepts such funding
- Performing at a level considered by your school to be academically satisfactory
- Enrolling in the Selective Service if you’re a male aged 18 to 25
Once you’ve completed your FAFSA, the rest is pretty effortless when aiming for federal loans. The application process is made even simpler by completing it online. U.S. News reports that nearly 99 percent of students complete their FAFSA on the Internet. Make sure you have all necessary income and identification information on hand.