Idaho Student Loans
From beautiful snow-capped mountains to lush valleys, Idaho is home to various innovative and diverse colleges and universities.
Idaho’s flagship for higher education, the University of Idaho has campuses in Boise, Moscow, Coeur d’Alene, Research Park, and Idaho Falls. The system offers 130 undergraduate bachelor’s degree options, 88 master’s degree options, and 32 doctoral majors.
A highly acclaimed research and teaching institution, Idaho State University is the state’s leader in medical and health profession education and boasts high-end academics in technology, engineering, visual arts, and much more. The man campus is located in Pocatello, Idaho just minutes away from some of the American West’s most majestic natural wonders. Idaho State University also has campuses in Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, and Meridian, providing close to 14,500 students with a plethora of recreational and educational opportunities. Boise State University, Eastern Idaho Technical College, and Lewis and Clark State College round out the public institutions for higher education in Idaho.
The College of Idaho, located in Caldwell, which is in Idaho’s Treasure Valley, is a private liberal arts school with an innovative approach through its PEAK curriculum that allows students to earn a major alongside three minors across four academic peaks within four years to ensure a comprehensive base of knowledge upon graduation. Nestled in the Snake River Valley in Rexburg, Idaho, and close to Jackson Hole, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park, Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYU-Idaho) is the largest private university in the state of Idaho. BYU-Idaho is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and students come from all 50 states and 80 countries to receive a quality education in a faith-based environment.
In order to obtain financial aid at most colleges or universities in Idaho, the first step is generally to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This will help the federal, state, and college educational departments determine what type and how much financial aid you may qualify for by determining your expected family contribution (EFC) and then subtracting that from your cost of attendance (COA) at your chosen school. There are several types of financial aid: scholarships and grants that provide gift money that doesn’t have to be paid back, work-study programs wherein you can earn money through a job at the school or within the community to help offset college costs, and private or federal student loans that must be repaid. Scholarships are often merit or need-based, while federal grants are based solely on financial need for eligible students. The most common federal grant is the Pell Grant, which may provide a maximum of $5,815 for the 2016-2017 academic year to qualifying students. Other grants, such as the TEACH Grant for prospective teachers and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) may be offered at participating schools to qualifying students. Individual colleges may offer grants to students pursuing careers in specific fields of study as well.For students or parents needing to borrow money to cover the cost of college, federal student loans are usually the most cost-effective option. Generally speaking, federal student loans will offer the best interest rates, and repayment options are usually more flexible than with private student loans. The federal government is your lender and typically disburses funds to your school directly on your behalf. Loans are either offered through the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program or the Federal Perkins Loan Program.
Undergraduate and graduate students as well as parents of undergraduate students may take out Direct Loans, which include the Direct Subsidized Loan, the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, and the Direct PLUS Loan. Subsidized means that the federal government helps with the interest accrued, and they are for undergraduate students with financial need. With an unsubsidized loan, the borrower is responsible for repaying all of the accrued interest. Both Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans have borrowing limits and eligibility requirements set by the federal government and the school. The amount you can borrow each year is determined by your year in school and whether you are an independent or dependent student.
Direct PLUS Loans are offered to parents of undergraduate students or graduate students, and borrowers may borrow up to the full amount of the cost of attendance. If you have more than one federal student loan, you may combine them into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Federal Perkins Loans are for those demonstrating financial need. They usually offer the lowest interest rates and may not be offered at every school in Idaho. Private, or alternative loans, are disbursed through financial institutions directly and will have a different application process. The bank or credit union will be your lender and a credit check as well as strict guidelines and eligibility requirements may apply.
Private loans are usually considered secondary to federal loans, although they may be useful to bridge any gaps in funding college you may have. Check with your school’s financial aid office to determine what types of loans they accept and what their specific deadlines may be.
Scholarships in Idaho
Typically, scholarships come from either the school itself, the state, or from an outside organization. Students may be considered for campus or state-based merit scholarships upon application to an Idaho college or university, while outside organizations’ scholarships will usually require a separate application. State-based scholarships in Idaho include:
- Governor’s Cup Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded to 25 graduating seniors from an Idaho high school with a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or higher who enroll as full-time students at an Idaho college or university in a technical or academic program. Special priority is given to students with community service or volunteer work experience. The application also requires a 500-word essay, and the scholarship awards $3,000 a year for up to four years.
- GEAR UP Idaho Scholarship: Eligible students will have participated in the GEAR UP early intervention program while attending an Idaho high school and graduated in 2012, 2013, or 2014. This scholarship is open to renewal students only and grants up to the maximum amount of the current year’s Pell Grant funding for students attending a participating college who are less than 22 years of age at the time of initial application. Applicants must also complete a FAFSA to qualify.
- Armed Forces and Public Safety Officer Scholarship: This scholarship waives fees, subsidizes campus housing, and provides $500 for books for Idaho resident students who are the spouse or child of a permanently disabled or fallen member of the U.S. Armed Forces or an Idaho public safety officer as determined by the federal government or the state of Idaho.
- Tschudy Family Scholarship: This scholarship awards $2,500 a year for up to five years of undergraduate study and two years of graduate study for graduates of Emmett High School in Idaho with a cumulative GPA of 2.6 or higher who demonstrate financial need. Students must enroll full-time at Boise State University, Idaho State University, the University of Idaho, or Lewis and Clark State College and submit both the FAFSA and an additional scholarship application.
To learn more about campus-based scholarships at your chosen college or university, check with your individual school’s financial aid office.