When It Comes to Student Loans, Compare Options & Use MEFA's Expert Resources
(BOSTON - July 13, 2022) – With rising interest rates, students and families are advised to be savvy consumers and compare the terms and conditions of college loans before picking one, says MEFA, the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority. To help students and families navigate the confusing world of college loans, MEFA provides free online resources, webinars presented by experts, and no-cost personal appointments with its College Planning Team members.
Before taking out any loan, MEFA advises the first stop for students and families should be MEFA's Comparing College Loan Options web page. Here, they will find trustworthy, unbiased advice on minimizing borrowing, how to borrow wisely, and where to start when looking for college loans (Answer: Federal Direct Student Loans). They can also watch a webinar with college loan experts and book a one-on-one appointment with a MEFA College Planning Team member for personal guidance.
"Massachusetts is proud to be a worldwide leader in higher education, however, the cost of college remains a barrier for many families and students," said Governor Charlie Baker. "Our administration is grateful to MEFA for its continued commitment to ensuring that students across the Commonwealth have access to quality, affordable college educations, and for its support of families as they navigate the financial process."
In the current loan season, MEFA is stressing to students and families to comparison shop for loans. MEFA urges families to focus on:
- Lowering the overall cost of borrowing. Utilize college savings and other assets to pay for college. Also, families should ask the college if they have an interest-free monthly payment plan that can split payments over the course of the semester and reduce borrowing.
- Maximizing Federal Direct Student Loans. Work with the college's financial aid office to submit the FAFSA and receive the maximum amount available in Federal Direct Student Loans. These types of loans offer a guaranteed fixed interest rate, can be consolidated, and feature multiple repayment options and specific benefits not available with private student loans.
Once families have exhausted the above options, if there is still a gap to fill, MEFA recommends that families compare private student loan options using these tips:
- Understand Variable Vs. Fixed-Rate Loans. Variable-rate loans may seem more attractive because they offer a lower interest rate, but that rate will change over time. This can result in higher, unpredictable loan payments. A fixed-rate loan has the same interest rate for the life of the loan, so the borrower always knows the amount of the monthly payment.
- Read the Fine Print. Not all private loans are created equal. When considering which lender to borrow from, be sure to read the fine print for additional fees, which can boost the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and increase the overall cost of borrowing. Look for a lender that is transparent about its programs, will help choose the right loan product for the borrower's financial situation, and provide helpful answers.
- Understand the Cost of Borrowing. Understand from any prospective private lender the interest rate the borrower qualifies for, what the monthly payment will be, and the total cost of the loan. And remember, borrowers who expect to borrow again for future college years should expect cumulative costs to increase substantially.
"At MEFA, we focus our programs on planning, saving, and paying for college so we are a valuable resource for families seeking higher education and the Massachusetts colleges and universities who attract students from across the nation. We offer the MEFA Loan as a competitive option for families, but we encourage them to do their homework and make the financial decision right for the student and the family," said Thomas Graf, Executive Director of MEFA.
THE MEFA LOAN
MEFA recently released the MEFA Loan rates for the 2022-2023 academic year. The MEFA Loan offers fixed interest rates ranging from 4.89% to 6.99% APR. MEFA Loans have no origination fee, no application fee, and no prepayment penalties.
MEFA Loans are available to qualifying borrowers nationwide who may select from multiple repayment options and benefit from fixed interest rates that result in predictable and steady monthly payments for the life of the loan. The interest rate of the MEFA Loan is contingent upon a few key elements, including the selected repayment option and the borrower's credit profile. The lowest rates are only available to the most creditworthy applicants.
MEFA's College Planning Experts are available to help students and families by calling (800) 449-6332 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit mefa.org for complete access to MEFA's expert college planning guidance including free webinars, educational emails, and a popular podcast series, all created with the goal of helping families through the busy college planning years.
MEFA is a not-for-profit state authority, not reliant on state or federal appropriations, established under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 15C. MEFA's mission, since its founding in 1982, has been to help Massachusetts students and families access and afford higher education and reach financial goals through education programs, tax-advantaged savings plans, low-cost loans, and expert guidance. All of MEFA's work aligns with the ever-present goal to support the independence, growth, and success of Massachusetts students and families. Visit mefa.org to learn more or follow MEFA on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.