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Paying for College

FAQs on Borrowing Student Loans During Uncertain Times

Topics include the amount to borrow, the timing of applying, reducing loan amounts, and increasing loan amounts

In our conversations with families, many have asked questions related to the uncertainty of the upcoming year, particularly as it relates to borrowing a student loan. With more possibliity this year for fluctuating costs, especially if colleges alter their plans at any point during the academic year, borrowing needs will change. We've posted below the answers to some of the most common questions we've been receiving.

Q1: Should I borrow a loan for the whole year or one semester at a time?

A1: We advise that families borrow what they think they will need for the full year based on current plans (e.g. full-time, part-time, remote). This will ensure that you have your costs covered for the full year and you won't have to apply for an additional loan for the second semester. Of course, you are welcome at most lenders, including MEFA, to borrow for just one semester if you're unsure of your plans for the entire academic year.

Q2: How much should I borrow?

A2: Once you receive your college bill, determine the resource you will use to cover your costs, including parent and student savings, current income, financial aid, and family contributions. Any amount not covered by other resources can be borrowed in a college loan, not to exceed the total cost of attendance. Make sure you take into account non-billed expenses such as books and supplies. But don't borrow more than you need.

Q3: When should I apply for a MEFA Loan? Should I wait to see if my bill changes?

A3: We recommend that you wait until you receive your college bill before deciding how much to borrow and applying. We also recommend that families apply at least two weeks before the bill due date, if possible. That being said, we recognize that this year, families may not have two weeks, and don't worry if that's the case. The credit decision on the MEFA Loan application is instant and the entire process is electronic, which allows things to move quickly.  

Q4: What if campus closes early and my bill is overpaid?

A4: If your campus closes early and your college reduces your costs, your bill may be overpaid. If you borrowed a loan and would like to reduce the amount you borrowed, ask your school's financial aid office to send a refund back to your lender for the portion of the loan you no longer need. If you borrowed a MEFA Loan, we will reverse interest.

Q5: How do I let MEFA know if my MEFA Loan needs to be reduced?

A5: If your MEFA Loan needs to be reduced, we recommend you contact the financial aid office at your college to request a loan reduction. You can also call MEFA directly at (800) 266-0243, although we recommend starting with the financial aid office at your college or university first.

Q6: If I need to borrow more money because I decide to move on campus, how can I increase my loan?  

A6: If you need to borrow more money, you will need to submit a new loan application for most lenders. You can apply online for a new MEFA Loan at mefa.org/loans/application.

If you have any additional questions about borrowing a loan for college during this uncertain year, we are happy to provide guidance. Please reach out to our College Planning Team at (800) 449-6332 or collegeplanning@mefa.org.







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