Student Access Loan
The Georgia-based Student Access Loan (SAL) program is geared toward filling the coverage gap of college tuition expenses for students exhibiting financial need. Overseen by the Georgia Student Finance Authority, funding for these loans is generally derived from a combination of donations, state government funding, and lottery contributions. Another form of this loan – the Student Access Loan – Technical (SALT) – exists solely for students enrolled in technical programs. As such, it comes with its own rules and regulations.
Student loans are a primary method of paying for college for a large number of students. The National Center for Education Statistics notes that the typical student borrowed around $6,800 in student loans for the 2011-2012 academic term. Funds for the SAL have a lifetime cap of $40,000 and $12,000 for the SALT. In Georgia alone, the average amount of money owed after graduation is $23,089, per the Project on Student Debt.
Applying for a Student Access Loan
The typical student loan application process applies here. The first step is always the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application will determine what is formally recognized as your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This amount is the base guideline for any and all forms of financial aid you may or may not be eligible for during an academic year. The deadline for submitting the FAFSA is June 30th every year and holds firm.
You’ll need the following information when completing the application:
- Investment statements
- Your latest tax return or W-2s, or your parents’ return if you’re a dependent
- Bank statements
- Your driver’s license number
- Records of any untaxed income
- Your Social Security number, or alien registration number if you’re not a U.S. citizen
Eligibility requirements, per the Georgia Student Finance Commission, are as follows:
- Be a citizen of the United States or an eligible non-citizen
- Be a citizen of the state of Georgia on the day before the start of classes
- Be enrolled on at least a half-time basis at a degree-granting institution
- Remain enrolled on at least a half-time basis beyond the final day of the college’s add/drop period
- Meet the current GPA requirements set forth by the GSFC
Once you’re deemed eligible for a Student Access Loan, you must sign a promissory note in acceptance of the loan’s terms and repayment conditions.
SAL and SALT Specifics
Georgia Student Access Loans and Student Access Loans for Technical school are only for undergraduates and cannot be used unless other student loan options, such as Stafford loans for example, have been exhausted. That means, if you’re eligible for another loan, you cannot turn it down and still accept a GSAL. During your enrollment period and while on deferment from repaying your student access loan, the interest rate will remain at 1 percent. Once you begin repayment, it jumps to 8 percent. Certain graduates may be eligible for a decreased interest rate at 6 percent. The SALT, however, remains at 1 percent. Selection for GSAL and SALT are both at random.
Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree, most students are liable for the repayment of close to $30,000 in debt solely from student loans, per U.S. News. With the right loan — such as one with an extremely low interest rate that covers the additional costs left over from other forms of aid — you could get a college degree without paying any upfront out-of-pocket costs.