SAF Student Loans

Student Assistance Foundation

Based in Helena, Montana, the Student Assistance Foundation was solely a non-profit organization until recent years. In 2010, the Foundation introduced Tru Student, Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of the SAF, which focuses entirely on the servicing of new federal loans from the government, per the Independent Record.

For decades, student loans have been growing in popularity across the nation. For some, they cover the remaining cost of an education after the contribution of grants and scholarships. For others, student loans are their only resource of financial aid. For the 2011-2012 school year specifically, an approximate 75 to 85 percent of all new full-time undergraduate students of four-year institutions, and 79 percent of those enrolled at two-year institutions used some form of financial aid to pay for their college-related expenses, the National Center for Education Statistics reports.

What Is a Student Loan?

Student loans aren’t free of strings. Borrowed funds must be repaid to lenders, but the term in which it must be done is usually the biggest benefit of the student loan. Generally, most loans come with a grace period following the student’s graduation from a degree-granting program. Upon such, there is time for the student to seek and attain gainful employment prior to being liable for repayment. In the case of Stafford Loans, you’ll get six months, whereas the Perkins Loan comes with a nine-month grace period.

The Student Assistance Foundation

Loans are not funded directly through the Student Assistance Foundation. Rather, the SAF services loans for the Montana Higher Education Assistance Corporation and the Federal Family Education Loan Program. This means that the federal loans you borrow to foot your college bills may later be bought from the lender by the SAF. From there, they take over servicing while the original lender moves on. This process aids in the successful turnaround of loans year after year.

Without organizations like the SAF, federal lenders would run short in their ability to dole out new loans while waiting on full reimbursement of past ones. The Student Assistance Foundation reports a $3.4 billion value on their service portfolio, citing clientele from lenders both within the state of Montana and across the nation.

Applying for a student loan is easy. The process is handled almost entirely in one step through your completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Eligibility for a loan depends on which type you’re targeting. Subsidized Stafford Loans require that the applicant exhibit financial need, per their Expected Family Contribution, whereas Unsubsidized Stafford Loans do not. Subsidized loans have the extra perk of the government paying the interest during the student’s enrollment – the only loan of its kind to have this feature. Current interest rates range from 3.86 to 5.31 percent among Stafford Loans, per the Office of Federal Student Aid.

Direct PLUS Loans are the only federal student loan to take your credit history into account, and they are only applicable to parents of dependent undergraduates as well as graduate and professional students. The Perkins Loan comes with a fixed 5 percent interest rate and a nine-month grace period.

Repayment

In 2012, seven out of 10 college graduates left school with an average of $29,400 in student loan debt, per U.S. News. That figure jumped to $33,000 as of 2014, USA Today notes. When it’s time to start paying on those debts you’ve accrued over your years of study, that’s where the SAF comes in. Negotiations from repayment plans based on your income and deferments of your loan balance altogether are available through the Foundation. The Tru Student subsidiary offers access to:

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