08.07.13 | Student Loan Servicer Transfer

Posted in Financial Aid, News, Repayment, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

Federal Student Loan Servicer Transfer

Last week, the United States Department of Education released a newsletter informing students and their schools that federal student loans handled by four nonprofit servicers would soon be transferred to new servicers. Over the next two months, the majority of loans that are currently serviced by COSTEP, EDGEucation, and EdManage will be transferred to MOHELA, while those serviced by KSA Servicing will be transferred to Aspire Resources Inc.

What is a Loan Servicer?

To provide a little background, your loan servicer is assigned to you by the Department of Education after your loan has been fully disbursed. This company processes your payments and works as your customer service representative while you repay your student loans. For additional information on loan servicers, try visiting StudentAid.ed.gov.

Transfer Process

You will receive either an email or a letter in the mail prior to the transfer to inform you if your servicer will change, as well as an additional notification once the transfer is complete. These notifications will provide information on your new servicer, along with a statement that they will be servicing the loan on behalf of the the Department of Education.

You will need to contact the new servicer to activate features such as electronic billing and automatic loan payments. In addition, both MOHELA and Aspire Resources claim that students will not need to reapply for deferment or forbearance if their previous servicer already reviewed their application, but you should contact your new servicer just to make sure that this information carries over. (more…)

06.26.13 | Will Student Loan Interest Rates Double on July 1?

Posted in Financial Aid, News, Stafford Loan by Mark Kantrowitz

If Congress does not act, interest rates on new subsidized Stafford loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1, 2013. Previously originated subsidized Stafford loans and all other education loans will not be affected.

Doubling of the interest rates certainly sounds dramatic, but the actual impact on students will be more muted.

Each year, less than a third of undergraduate students receive federal subsidized Stafford loans. The average subsidized Stafford loan is $3,357, based on data from the 2007-08 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), with average subsidized Stafford loan debt at graduation of $9,008 ($11,329 for Bachelor’s degree recipients). Only 3% of subsidized Stafford loan borrowers graduate with debt equal to the aggregate limit of $23,000.

Assuming a 10-year repayment term, doubling of the interest rate on $3,357 in debt increases the monthly loan payment by less than $7. On $9,008 in debt, the increase is less than $18; on $11,329 the increase is less than $24; and on $23,000 the increase is less than $48.

Doubling the interest rate does not double the monthly payment. Most of the monthly payment goes to principal, not interest. For example, on a 10-year term, increasing the interest rate from 3.4% to 6.8% increases the monthly payment by about one sixth (16.9%).

So while the interest rate increase will increase borrowing costs, it is not a major disaster.

Focusing on the interest rates, on the other hand, is a distraction from the real problem (more…)

10.03.12 | What color is the FAFSA form this year

Every year we get the same question, so here is your answer:

For the 2013–2014 year, the FAFSA will be green, with a purple section for parents.

For the current year, 2012–2013 the FAFSA is orange.

In previous years:

  • 2011–2012 FAFSA was Yellow
  • 2010–2011 FAFSA was Blue

For detailed information on completing the FAFSA, visit FAFSAonline.

02.23.11 | Understanding the Financial Aid Roadmap

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid, financial aid tips by Student Loan Network Staff

Applying for and receiving financial aid can be a long and confusing process, but don’t fret, we’re here to help! We’ve compiled information on all of the steps necessary for receiving financial aid to help answer your most common questions. The financial aid roadmap outlines all of the steps you should take, from how to fill out your FAFSA to tips on comparing financial aid packages.

So, what are the steps?

  1. Prepare for, and fill out your FAFSA form
  2. Review your Student Aid Report (SAR)
  3. Compare your award letters and financial aid packages
  4. Review your federal loan options and contact your financial aid office to accept
  5. Apply for additional aid to cover your full cost of tuition

Now that you have the entire process at your fingertips, make sure to start early! It’s important to file your FAFSA as soon as possible so that you can receive maximum aid and be on your way to that college degree.

09.13.10 | What the FAFSA? Words of Wisdom about the Financial Aid Form

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid, Stafford Loan by Student Loan Network Staff

In my previous post, I gave a quick run down of the types of financial aid that I can apply for to help finance my education. Applying for federal aid will be my first step, so I want to start preparing my FAFSA form.

Why do I need to fill out a FAFSA form?

In order to qualify for federal aid for students, you must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the U.S. Department of Education. This form is used to calculate your financial aid eligibility based on the financial and demographic information for you and your family.

Once complete, the Department of Education will forward a record of the application to the school/schools you specify.

What can I do now to prepare my FAFSA?

While the FAFSA needs to be filed with your 2010 tax information (which you won’t get until at least January of next year), it is recommended that you get a head start on gathering the right information now. In fact, most of what you’ll need for the FAFSA can be taken care of now. You can also estimate your tax information based on this years forms, however, this is only recommended if you can make a very accurate guess.

Below is a check list for what you and your family can do now to prepare early for the college financial aid application process:

Financial Aid Deadlines: Begin gathering the deadlines for your financial aid applications. Each school may have different deadlines.

Tax Information: Grab your 2010 tax forms, and anything else you are preparing for 2011 as well. You’ll receive your W2′s in February of next year and you may want to update your FAFSA when that information arrives.

Asset and Demographic Information: This where you list the financial details about you and your family, including your assets and demographic information. For help with what this will entail, visit FAFSAOnline.com and send your parents here.

School List: You can tell the Department of Education to send your results to a maximum of 10 schools. You will have to list the schools by their school code, which can be found here: FAFSAOnline.com – School Code List. When you’re looking into schools and noting their deadlines, make sure you find their code as well.

FAFSA Pin: Both you and your parents need to sign up for a FAFSA Pin #. This number will be used to identify you throughout the application process, and you can get it early and put it away in a safe place!

Ok, now go! You can download the FAFSA form now. You may file it early, but you will have to then update the forms next year with your new tax information.

03.26.10 | Change is in the Air for Federal Student Aid

Posted in Financial Aid, Graduate Loans, Repayment, Stafford Loan, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

As of Thursday, March 25, the Senate passed both the hotly contested Healthcare Reform and widely anticipated Student Loan Reform bill. Contained within are a host of changes that seek to streamline the federal student loan process, and redirect money into places it can be better used, such as the Pell Grant program and efforts to reduce the federal deficit.

Of these changes, the biggest relate to how Income Based Repayment (IBR) works for borrowers, and the elimination of the Federal Family Education Loan program. Both of these have implications for all types of students, parents, and individuals repaying their loans. (more…)

02.22.10 | Stafford Loans, in Plain English

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid, Stafford Loan by Student Loan Network Staff

Stafford loanNow that it’s FAFSA time, I thought that the second installment of this blog should focus on a piece of federal aid that many students receive as part of their award: the federal Stafford loan. Read on to find answers to questions like: “What is it?”, “What does it do for me?”, and “What is it going to cost me?”

What is a federal Stafford loan? The Stafford loan is a type of financial aid granted from the United States government to students who file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and show demonstrated financial need. The Stafford Loan program is an evolution of the Guaranteed Student Loan Program, established in 1965, and was named after a Republican senator from Vermont who was highly honored and respected for his work on higher education reform. (more…)

02.12.10 | FAFSA and You

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid by Student Loan Network Staff

To open, I’d like to ask a simple question: Have you filed your FAFSA yet? If no, you should know that the FAFSA is one of the most valuable financial aid tools in a student’s arsenal (besides scholarships and grants, which are the best) because it shows the government and your school that you need money for college.

In the eyes of your future school, neglecting to file a FAFSA is equivalent to leaving a gigantic tip on on a small meal – you only do it because you don’t care, or money is no object. Depending on your level of need, there is potential to get a significant portion of your cost of attendance financed at attractive interest rates, and/or qualify for a Pell Grant, which you do not need to pay back. Also, the FAFSA applies to both undergraduate AND graduate students.

So why the urgency? “I read on the Government website that my FAFSA isn’t actually due until June 30, right?” — Technically yes, but the real answer is no. In the case of colleges and universities, the financial aid department of your school will actually set a separate financial aid deadline in order to give themselves enough time to put together everyone’s aid packages.

The bottom line: The longer you wait to file your FAFSA, the less chance you have of receiving an excellent financial aid package from your school. Also, be on the lookout for a separate school-only financial aid form – sometimes they require more than just the FAFSA to evaluate your need; you can contact your financial aid office to ask if there are more forms involved.

One last thing! Don’t forget to send your FAFSA to all the schools you applied to. When you are completing the application, there will be an option toward the end to add the receiving schools by school code… just make sure you get them all in there and you will be A-OK paperwork-wise when your school begins to review financial need.

ScholarshipPoints Redemption Code: FAFSA2K10

02.11.10 | Demystifying Federal Student Loans

Posted in Financial Aid, Stafford Loan, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

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If you’re like me, you probably were at least somewhat confused the first time you looked at your financial award letter. “Stafford Loans”, “Perkins Loans”, “PLUS Loans”, what does it all mean?! Well friend, I’m glad you asked!

Each type of loan has a special purpose, so I’d like to break it all down for you and we’ll start with with the most common one, the Stafford loan.

Stafford Loans

To get started with these puppies, there are two different kinds of Stafford loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. The difference between the two is all about the interest; subsidized loans have a lower fixed interest rate of 4.5% for the 2010-11 academic year (meaning you pay less money over the course of the loan) and actually don’t start accruing interest until your six month grace period after graduation is over.

Unsubsidized Stafford loans begin to build interest (currently at 6.8% fixed) immediately after disbursement, which means that they snowball like private student loans. The nice thing about Stafford loans though is if you can afford to, you have the option of paying off the interest as it accrues while you’re still in school without any penalties. The end result is you pay a lot less interest over the life of the loan, and save yourself a pile of money. If you can’t afford to pay the interest while you’re in school though, don’t worry too much… you’re still getting a bargain on the interest rate compared to most private student loans out in the market.

Perkins Loans

A Perkins loan is a special type of low-interest product (5% fixed, as of 2010) intended for students with exceptional financial need. Although your need for the loan is determined based on your FAFSA, your school actually is the entity that decides whether to give you the money or not. Every year, the Federal Government grants participating schools with a certain amount of funding meant for Perkins loans, and each school can choose to lend only those funds, or add some of their own to the pool for financial assistance to their students.

If you ever write an appeal notice to your financial aid department at school, this, along with any school-sponsored scholarships or grants, is likely what they would consider you for to increase your award. One thing to consider that is a little odd for this particular type of loan is that since the school is your lender, you actually will receive the repayment bill from them instead of the government. Due to this, there can be different billing cycles… for instance, it isn’t unheard of to only be billed for this type of loan once every four months instead of monthly.

PLUS Loans

The PLUS loan is the last type of lending that the government offers to students and families, and is meant to bridge the gap between your Stafford, Perkins awards, and your total cost of attendance. Unlike the other two, the PLUS loan requires a credit check, much like a private student loan. There is a quirk though, in that if the parent does not pass the credit check, a friend or relative can actually co-sign on the loan. The APR of this loan changes every July, but will never exceed 9.0%.

As a side note, all the loans above are available to both undergraduate AND graduate students. As always, the best types of financial aid you can get are scholarships and grants (since you don’t have to pay them back!), and there are tons of resources available to find them like StudentScholarshipSearch and ScholarshipPoints. However, the subsidized Stafford loan is definitely the best option you can get as far as student loans go, and will cost the least over the course of your repayment.

*Credit Images to “Cmiper” on Flickr

ScholarshipPoints Code: MYSTERYGONE

10.09.09 | Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards

Posted in Financial Aid, Stafford Loan by Student Loan Network Staff

satisfactory_academic_progressDid you realize that when you withdraw from a class it may hurts your federal aid?  Isn’t that ridiculous?  At least I think so.  As it is you are already out the money for the class, but you may get hit with a double whammy.

I say you “may” get hit because each school handles this differently. While The official eligibility requirement states that students must maintain a “C” average, or standing consistent with graduation requirements, it does not speak specifically to the attempted vs. completed credit hours.

Many schools require that you complete 75% of the credits you attempt (including all transfer credits) in order to be eligible for federal aid.  Make sure you check with your school to confirm what your satisfactory academic progress standards are.