Idaho Student Loans

Girl and father discussing student loansFrom 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.

Types of Financial Aid

Concentrating students at the lecture hall

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 $6,195 for the 2019-2020 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 offered through the William D. Ford Direct 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.

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:

To learn more about campus-based scholarships at your chosen college or university, check with your individual school’s financial aid office.

Reduced Tuition Outside of Idaho

Student studyingTuition for an Idaho college or university may be half as much for a resident than for those attending school from out-of-state, according to figures collected by the Idaho State Board of Education. The same is true in most states. Fortunately, Idaho residents have the unique opportunity to attend college or university in multiple additional western states for reduced tuition rates through the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program and Western Regional Graduate Program. Arizona, Hawaii, Alaska, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho are participating members of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Through this program, states agree to provide lower tuition for resident students seeking programs not offered in their home state if they attend an eligible school in a WICHE state school. Often, students will need to submit an application for this program. Higher education in Idaho may be more affordable than you may have initially realized with all the financial aid options open to prospective students.