After thirty years, MEFA is still doing exactly what it was created to do – helping to make higher education more accessible and affordable for Massachusetts students and families. Hundreds of thousands of families have turned to MEFA for guidance on paying for college, and many have borrowed a MEFA Massachusetts student loan with some of the lowest fixed interest rates around. Be a wise borrower and do your homework by following these 5 easy steps.
MEFA’s low-cost fixed interest rate student loans benefit Massachusetts residents attending college in-state or out-of-state and for U.S. students pursuing higher education in Massachusetts. Our expanded Massachusetts loan programs and repayment options let you choose a loan that meets your needs.
Choice of repayment options — immediate, interest-only, or deferred.
Fixed interest rates on all MEFA student loans provide stable and predictable monthly payments.
No tiered pricing: all qualified MEFA borrowers receive the same low fixed interest rates for the applicable student loan program.
Step-up repayment strategy features a lower interest rate while the student is in school, keeping the monthly payment amount low during the college years.
Current MEFA Massachusetts Student Loans
Undergraduate loans with fixed interest rates as low as 5.99% (APR1 7.26%-8.55%). Learn more about MEFA Undergraduate Loans.
MEFA’s Student Deferred Loan features a unique low fixed interest rate of 8.09% (APR1 7.95%-8.68%), deferred repayment, and a co-borrower release option after 48 on-time payments. Learn more about the Student Deferred Loan.
Graduate loans with fixed interest rates as low as 7.09% (APR1 8.27%-8.55%). Learn more about MEFA Graduate Loan.
Most people use a combination of past income (savings), present income and future income (loans) to pay their college costs. Consider all your options before borrowing loans that you’ll have to repay with interest.
Savings & Current Income
The major advantage of using savings—including the funds you would withdraw from a college savings plan—is that it doesn’t require you to incur additional debt. The same is true for using your current income, if you have excess cash available after covering your costs of living.
Tuition Payment Plan
Many colleges offer interest-free monthly payment plans that allow you to split your bill into smaller, more manageable payments over 5–10 months. This is an excellent option if you don’t have the resources to pay your bill as a lump sum. Plans don’t charge interest but may require a minimal enrollment fee. Contact the college bursar’s office for more information.
If you decide to borrow to cover part of your education expenses, educate yourself first. Your credit score is an important factor in your applications for most loans. It’s important to know your credit score so that, if necessary, you can take measures to improve it before applying for PLUS, MEFA or other credit-based college student loans. Also, remember to maximize federal student loans before you take out private loans.
The following are some important concepts to understand when evaluating college loans:
Fixed vs. Variable Interest Rate: Fixed interest rate student loans have a constant interest rate and a payment amount that never changes. In variable interest rate loans, the interest rate (and your payments) may go up or down over time. Variable interest rate loans will likely increase as interest rates begin to rise in the economy.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): The APR reflects the total cost of borrowing money over the life of the loan, considering not only the interest rate but also the effect of other fees on the total cost of repaying the amount financed.
Immediate or Deferred Repayment: The interest rate of your loan may vary depending on whether you repay the loan immediately or wait until after graduation to start repaying.
Tiered Pricing: Tiered pricing means that interest rates depend on your credit. The advertised lowest interest rate may only be available to those with exceptional credit, and higher rates and fees may apply to those with fair to average credit ratings.
Origination Fee: Lenders often charge an administrative fee as a percentage of the loan amount. Sometimes the origination fee is added to the amount you borrow and other times it is subtracted from your loan amount.
Download our PDF for more tips on education loans.
Download our PDF for the Education Loan Comparison Worksheet.
The federal government offers tax credits – like the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit – and tax deductions to ease the burden of college costs. These tax advantages are based on your Adjusted Gross Income and other qualifying criteria. We encourage you to consult an expert tax advisor to discuss how the regulations apply to your particular situation, and to verify whether you may combine credits or deductions within the same tax year2.
Learn more from the IRS
The American Opportunity Credit
The American Opportunity Credit covers four years of post-secondary education. You may claim the credit for books, supplies and equipment needed for a course of study, as well as tuition and fees. A family may claim up to $2,500 per tax year for each eligible dependent.
The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit
The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit provides tax benefits for college juniors and seniors, graduate students, and others pursuing lifelong learning to upgrade their skills. Up to $2,000 can be deducted per tax year.
Student Loan Interest Deduction
You may deduct up to $2,500 per year of your loan interest and fees. This deduction is available for all education loans.
Tuition and Fees Deduction
You may also claim a tax deduction for qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, fees, room and board, books, and equipment.
Even though your student loans may be deferred until after you graduate, the choices you make while you’re a student can impact your options after graduation. Keeping debt down and maintaining good credit are two good strategies toward successfully managing your finances.
Learn more: College Student Budgets and Repaying Student Loans
1The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) reflects both the accruing interest and the effect of borrowing the origination fee and paying the expected monthly payment over the term of the loan. APR varies with length of deferral, length of the Anticipated In-School Period, and the presence of a co-borrower.
2We strongly recommend that you consult an expert tax advisor to discuss how the regulations apply to your particular situation, or that you review the tax laws and applicable regulations to determine whether the interest paid on your educational loan is deductible. MEFA cannot ensure that interest paid on individual loan(s) will be deductible.
MEFA reserves the right to modify or terminate benefits, products, services and terms in its sole discretion and without prior notice. MEFA education loan availability is subject to MEFA’s acceptance of a completed loan applications, including credit approval and fund availability for the applicable loan category at the proposed disbursement time.