Arizona Student Loans
With over 150 college and universities to choose from, including major public universities, community colleges, and private universities and colleges, Arizona offers a variety of post-secondary educational choices.
The capital city of Phoenix is home to many colleges and universities. Tempe, a suburb of Phoenix, is home to Arizona State University (ASU), which is one of the largest public top-ranked research universities in the state. ASU prides itself in high academics, cultural vitality, and community impact.
Located in the second largest city in the state, Tuscan, the University of Arizona (UA) is a premiere research university, offering more than 40,000 students over 300 majors to choose from in the pursuit of bachelor’s, master’s, graduate, and professional degrees. New undergraduate students at UA participate in the UA’s Guaranteed Tuition Plan that caps base tuition through the 2017-2018 academic year, helping to keep the costs of higher education manageable.
With the main campus located in Flagstaff, Northern Arizona University (NAU) has 38 campuses throughout the state as well as online options. NAU is a public university, providing an affordable option for potential students with guaranteed tuition rates for four years.
One of the largest providers of higher education in the country, the Maricopa Community College District has 10 campuses and two skills centers spread throughout Maricopa County in communities including Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Rio Salado to name a few. Maricopa Community Colleges are the largest provider of health care workers in the state, and they offer flexible degree and transfer programs for many other courses of study.
A premiere, private Christian University located about four hours from the historical Grand Canyon, in the city of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University (GCU) strives to provide students with applicable workplace skills as well as Christian values.
Students can study and attend courses at the University of Phoenix virtually anywhere in the world through its vast online learning program. The University of Phoenix offers flexible learning opportunities geared toward working adults. No matter what your educational goals are, chances you will be able to find a college or university in Arizona that suits your needs.
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
- Have a valid Social Security Number
- Males must register for the U.S. Selective Service between the ages of 18 and 24
- Have a high school diploma, GED, or accepted equivalent
- Be accepted or enrolled at a participating school as a regular student at least half-time (six credits) in a degree- or certificate-granting program
- Maintain satisfactory academic progress while attending school and receiving aid
- Not have any federal loans in default
- Sign a statement detailing your intentions to use the funds for educational purposes only
To submit your FAFSA, you will need your personal information, including your Social Security number and birthday as well current tax records, employment information, and any other pertinent financial records. You can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to easily input your tax files. If you are under the age of 24, not married, and don’t have any dependents, you will be considered a dependent student and will also need your parents’ Social Security numbers and financial information.
In order to complete your FAFSA online, you will also need to create a FSA ID, which will grant you access to your personal federal financial aid information as well as act as a digital signature. The FSA ID is fast and easy to create; it should be kept in a safe place and not shared with anyone.
Once your FAFSA is submitted, you are automatically considered for federal, state, and most campus need-based financial aid. Your school will receive your FAFSA information, which is used to calculate your expected family contribution, or EFC, in order to determine the types of aid for which you qualify. Schools can then subtract your total cost of attendance, COA, from this amount in order to make decisions on your financial aid eligibility.
Arizona State-Based Financial Aid
The state of Arizona offers the Arizona Leveraging Educational Assistance Program (AzLEAP), which is grant or gift money that doesn’t need to be paid back, and the Math, Science and Special Education Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program (MSSE), which starts out as borrowed funds and may be rolled into a forgivable loan or grant that doesn’t need to be paid back. The AzLEAP grant is offered to low-income undergraduate students demonstrating substantial financial need, and it is disbursed through participating Arizona colleges and universities to Arizona residents, depending on available funds. The maximum annual award amount for an AzLEAP grant is $2,500, although the average award is usually $1,000 a year.
The MSSE program is designed for junior and senior college students who are Arizona residents pursuing a public school teaching career within the state. This loan is need-based and students may borrow up to $7,000 each academic year, minus any other financial aid received, to pay toward school tuition, fees, and instructional materials. In order to have the loan forgiven, students must fulfill an obligation with the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education (ACPE) that states that students must teach in an Arizona public school for as many years as they borrowed money through the loan plus one year. For example, if a student borrowed MSSE funds for four years, they would need to teach for five years at an Arizona public school in order to have the full amount forgiven. Students are required to sign a promissory note upon receipt of the loan indicating the student’s intention to pay the loan back with interest if the service conditions are not met.
In addition to state-based financial aid, each individual school will have some form of institutional aid as well. This aid may also be need-based, or it may be merit-based or have other general requirements. Check with your particular school’s financial aid office for more information on free money options via scholarships and grants.
Financial aid for Arizona schools may also come from the federal government through the U.S. Department of Education. These funds do not depend on Arizona residence like state and many institutional grants and scholarships do. Federal funds are need-based grants, work-study programs, or borrowed funds in the form of student loans through the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. All forms of aid cannon exceed your total cost of attendance at your chosen school. Federal grants include the:
- Pell Grant: need-based grant offering undergraduate students seeking their first bachelor’s degree funds up $5,920 a year for the 2017-2018 academic year; actual award amount depends on your financial need, cost of attendance at your school, full-time or part-time student status, and plans to stay in school for the whole academic school year
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): awarded to students with substantial financial need at participating schools; funds are disbursed through the school and considered campus-based aid; award funds are limited and distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis and may range between $100 and $4,000 a year
- Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant: awards students pursuing a career in teaching up to $4,000 a year if an Agreement to Serve in a high-need and low-income school for four years within eight years of completing the program is fulfilled; grant is not available at all schools and is converted to a student loan that will need to be repaid if obligations are not met
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant: students that do not qualify for a Pell Grant whose parent or guardian was killed as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 may receive awards up to the amount of the Pell Grant offerings minus a 6.6% sequestration reduction for loans disbursed between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018
Work-study programs are a form of financial aid that allows students to work either on or off campus, depending on the school and type of jobs available. These jobs are flexible with your school schedule and part-time, not to exceed 20 hours a week. Jobs may be community service-based or related to your field of study. If you are eligible for work-study to help pay for your tuition costs, it will be indicated on your student aid report (SAR) that you will receive after your FAFSA is processed. If you are eligible, you will need to apply for work-study jobs through your school. Jobs are not guaranteed and not all schools participate in the federal Work-Study Program. Work-study jobs hourly pay rates will vary based on the job, location, and school funds, and they cannot be lower than the current federal minimum wage rate.
Federal student loans are funds that are borrowed, and the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. These loans are low cost with low and fixed interest rates as well as flexible repayment plans. Some schools accept the Federal Perkins Loan, which is a need-based loan for undergraduate and graduate students disbursed through the school, making your school the lender for these loans. Loans are low-interest with a 5% current fixed rate, and the amount you can borrow will depend on the availability of funds at your school. The maximum amount an undergraduate can borrow through Perkins Loans is $5,500 a year, up to an aggregate total of $27,000. Graduate students may borrow up to $8,000 a year, up to an aggregate total of $60,000, which also includes any funds borrowed as an undergraduate. Federal Direct Loans include:
- Subsidized Direct Loans: interest is paid during the deferment period for undergraduate students attending school at least half-time in a degree- or certificate-granting program and demonstrating financial need; students may borrow between $3,500 and $5,500 a year, up to an aggregate total of $23,000, at 4.45% interest and depending on year in school, enrollment, and dependency status; subsidized loans have an additional loan fee of 1.066% for all loans disbursed between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018
- Unsubsidized Direct Loans: graduate and undergraduate students may borrow, and the loan is not based on financial need; undergraduates may borrow between $5,500 and $12,500 a year in both subsidized and unsubsidized loans, up to a total aggregate maximum amount of $31,000-$57,000 per year, at 4.45% interest and depending on year in school, enrollment, and dependency status; graduate students may borrow up to $20,500 per year up to a cap of $138,500 aggregate, including any undergraduate student loans, and with an interest rate of 6%; all unsubsidized loans have an additional loan fee of 1.066% for all loans disbursed between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018
- Parent PLUS Loans: parents of dependent undergraduate students may take out these loans, which are based on a credit check instead of financial need; parents may borrow up to the total cost of attendance less any other financial aid received at a fixed interest rate of 7% for loans disbursed between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018; PLUS Loans have an additional loan origination fee of 4.264% for loans disbursed between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018
- GradPLUS Loans: graduate students are considered independent students automatically and may borrow PLUS Loans if credit is favorable; students may borrow up to the complete cost of attendance less any other financial aid received at a fixed interest rate of 7% for loans disbursed between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018; PLUS loans have an additional loan origination fee of 4.264% for loans disbursed between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018
The last option for student loans in the state of Arizona is private student loans, or alternative student loans. These loans are offered through private financial institutions and organizations such as a credit union or bank. Loan rates and terms will vary, and they are typically not as favorable as federal student loans. Loans may have variable interest rates, which means that they may go up during the life of your loan. Private student loans are not based on financial need, but rather on a credit check, and many student borrowers have yet to build up any credit, which may mean that a co-signer will be required. Utilizing a co-signer with favorable credit may give you the best rates. You will need to apply for private student loans with the organization that will act as your lender directly. If you choose a private student loan, be sure to shop around to receive the most favorable loan rates and terms.