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Photo Illustration: Kayla Stroud/THE SPECTATOR

Loans, loans, loans: What to know about all the different loans available

Written by Aldean Starr, Staff Writer

It’s that time of the semester that has students excited beyond measure and the financial aid office very busy. Refund checks are being processed and released to all students with extra money on their balance. But, huge refund checks are not always a good thing.

Sandra Griffin, the assistant director/ loan director of the VSU financial aid office, said that students should only take out the necessary amount of loans needed to pay for school. If a student’s refund check is full of loan money, students should only use a certain amount for the things that they need, because loans will accumulate and add interest.

Some loans will not accumulate interest until the student has been out of school for a grace period of six months; those loans are known as subsidized loans. The interest does not accumulate while a student is in college, because the college or university will take care of the interest amount while the student attends school. Subsidized loans are only available to students pursuing an undergraduate degree with a financial need. Unlike subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans are available for undergraduate and graduate students with no requirement of financial need. The downside is that unsubsidized interest accumulates in all periods, even while a student is in college. Both of these loan amounts may be determined by the school.

Total Enrollment GraphicEach school determines the loan amounts by the Federal Direct Loan Program, but schools are not a student’s only source when it comes to receiving loans. Students also have the option to pursue alternative loan programs, also known as private loans. Private loan programs often have their own website, but the financial aid office should be able to direct any student on how to find alternative loan programs. Examples of alternative loan programs are Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo. But for any loan, the goal is to keep up with the amount and different trends that may be affecting loan amounts.

“If you have the money available, start making payments as soon as possible,” said Sandra Griffin, assistant director and loan director of the VSU financial aid office.

Griffin also said that paying off loans after graduation is not the only option. Students have the right to start paying off loans while in school. For this alternative, there is no set amount that has to be paid, so a student can just pay what they have. Griffin also said that it is highly suggested that students start with unsubsidized loans, if they choose to pay while in school.

Loans can be helpful, but every student must remember that loans eventually have to be paid off. So if a student must borrow loans, they must look into different programs and see which provides the best assistance to them.



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