December 12, 2008

PBS Online Newshour – 2 specials on the risign cost of colleges

Posted in Graduate Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Saving for College, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process at 7:47 AM by Joe From Boston

This is must-read stuff for those of you struggling to pay, or those of you preparing to pay in the near future.

  • Part 1:
    Rising Tuition, Credit Crunch Threaten Affordability of Higher Education -“A new study on American higher education gave all but one state a failing grade on affordability, and warned that college could soon be out of reach for most Americans.”
  • Part 2:
    Colleges Students Squeezed by Rising Costs, Less Aid -“More college students and their families are struggling to afford tuition at public institutions due to increasing costs and state funding cuts in education. John Tulenko of Learning Matters Television takes a look at the impact of rising higher education costs in the second of a two-part series.”

December 23, 2007

What is the Stafford Loan interest rate currently?

Posted in Graduate Students, Stafford Loans at 7:23 AM by Joe From Boston

And following up to yesterday’s post, here’s the 411 on the Stafford Loan.

The interest rate for the 2007-2008 academic year for all new student loans (disbursed after July 1, 2006) will be fixed at 6.8%.

Congress will meet in May 2008 and decide whether or not to change the rate for the 2008-2009 school year.  THey often change it, but recently the changes have been minimal.

December 22, 2007

What is the PLUS Loan interest rate currently?

Posted in Graduate Students, Parent PLUS Loans at 7:20 AM by Joe From Boston

I’ve heard this question a lot recently, so I thought I’d address it directly.

What is the PLUS Loan’s interest rate? PLUS Loans disbursed after July 1, 2006 currently have a fixed interest rate of 8.50%. This rate will remain fixed from July 1, 2007 to Jul 31, 2008. In May of 2008, Congress will decide whether or not to change the interest rate. They often change it yearly, but recently the changes have been small.

The same rate applies to GradPLUS Loans, which are available for graduate students.

December 17, 2007

Going back to school later in life – financial aid is available

Posted in Graduate Students, Parent PLUS Loans at 10:06 AM by Joe From Boston

Heading back to school after spending time working in your field is becoming more and more popular.

And luckily, there are financial aid options that didn’t exist before!

Last year the government introduced the GradPLUS loan for graduate students.  It allows graduate students to borrow under the same terms as the Parent PLUS loan.  Prior to this, very little federal aid was available causing students to turn to the more expensive private loans.

So take heed graduate students, there is help available!   You can learn more by visiting

August 24, 2007

Studying Abroad

Posted in Graduate Students, Misc tagged , , , , , at 1:15 PM by Joe From Boston

I’ve got Study Abroad on the mind today. We ordered Indian food for the office today for lunch, and I was put in charge of ordering because I’ve spent time in India and Nepal, and I know what almost everything on the menu actually is.

I studied abroad in Nepal Jan-June 2001, doing a study-abroad during my junior year of college through the School for International Training. I also did my master’s degree directly enrolled at King’s College, London, England.

I wouldn’t trade either experience for the world.

This is a difficult article for me to write, because even 6 and 3 years later, respectively, it’s hard to explain to someone how incredible an experience studying in a foreign country can be.

Studying abroad changes you in the best ways you can be changed. You begin to realize how truly lucky you are, and you learn a lot about yourself. You are exposed to multiple different points of view, many which you’ve probably never encountered, but all make you think very hard about your own beliefs.

I find that people who study abroad are better prepared to stand on their own to feet afterwards than their college counterparts who did not go. They’ve been “on their own” in a foreign country and had to think for themselves.

You also have some of the most incredible experiences of your entire life. I’ve flown past the Himalayas – at 30,000 feet when you look out the airplane window, they are at eye level – and hiked through them. I’ve rode elephants through the jungle looking for rhinos. I’ve taken the train to Paris for the day. I’ve been to Stonehenge 5 times (everyone who visited me wanted to go).

I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.  However, traveling can come with risk so consider travel insurance or specific student insurance plans.

I guess you could say that studying abroad has made me appreciate life a lot more than I would have otherwise.

Wow, writing this has really made me want to book a trip somewhere! Kathmandu, anyone?

August 6, 2007

Gap Year finally coming to America

Posted in Graduate Students, Misc tagged , , , at 7:50 AM by College Admissions

I wondered how long it would take this trend to reach our shores. I lived in Britain from 2003 to 2004 and the “Gap Year” is quite prevalent there! A lot of university students are expecting to take a year off before entering university. It’s a year for exploration and self study, mostly. Kids travel a lot, volunteer in foreign countries, do internships at a relevant business in their own country – contrary to what some believe, most UK students do not just go party for a year.

I wish I’d had a gap year. I’m a computer science person who loves history and anthropology – the latter aren’t very prevalent in my daily life, as you can imagine. I would have loved to take a year and work abroad building my independence social and language skills. For additional advice, check out Gap Year Planner

Read the whole article from the Washington Post here.

More Are Taking a Rain Check on College
By Ian Shapira

Washington Post Staff Writer -Sunday, August 5, 2007; Page C01

Billy Neville was flipping through the humongous Fiske Guide to Colleges last fall, yet another senior at a pressure-cooker high school in search of a game plan, when his mother told him something unexpected.

“She said, ‘Keep in mind, you don’t really have to go to college next year. You can do something fun,’ ” recalled Neville, 18, who graduated in June from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda. “I genuinely liked that idea, but I didn’t know how serious she was and how well a year off would work. But I started looking at the idea, and it looked better than going to college because I didn’t know what I wanted to do at college.”

Ultimately, Neville was accepted at Miami University of Ohio. But he deferred enrollment for a year, joining the ranks of maverick students who take a “gap year” — time off between high school and college. Some do it to find enlightenment and introspection, others to learn something new or pursue a passion.

There are no hard counts of gap-year students, but the National Association for College Admission Counseling in Alexandria reports anecdotal evidence from counselors that more high school graduates these days are seeking a year off. Gap-year consultants who charge $1,000 or more to advise students on how to fill the time have emerged.

Some students say they take a gap year to escape stress accumulated from Advanced Placement courses and competition over grades and class rank.

“I grew really tired of everything in school. I just didn’t like the atmosphere, especially at Whitman, where if you’re not an overachiever, then you’re just . . . I don’t know,” Neville said. “So, I was hoping, in my year off, I’ll find out what really interests me.”

Neville asked for his deferral in a letter to the admissions office. “And they came right back, saying, ‘Sure,’ ” said his mother, Clare Neville.

Ann Larson, a senior associate director of admissions at Miami of Ohio, said the university grants deferrals for medical issues, military service, study abroad and other reasons on a case-by-case basis.

“We really have no problem with students taking gap years,” Larson said. “It’s very positive what they bring back to the university. It’s a maturing experience.”

College admissions officers said they want gap-year students to improve upon an area of expertise or perform some kind of public service. John Blackburn, dean of admissions at University of Virginia, said students often seek deferrals for missionary work or public service jobs through such nonprofit organizations as Operation Smile, which performs free reconstructive surgery on children born with facial deformities in developing countries. Admissions officials at Georgetown University estimated that 25 to 30 students admitted each year in a class of almost 1,600 ask for a deferral, requesting trips abroad to learn a foreign language, intern at a foreign embassy, or even work at a foreign or domestic magazine.

Charles Deacon, Georgetown‘s admissions director, said: “Students have to have a plan that we approve of. Mostly it’s for some type of cultural enhancement.”

Read the whole article here.

May 23, 2007

Consolidation Season

Posted in Consolidation, Graduate Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News at 2:15 PM by Joe From Boston

Tis’ the season – for consolidation that is!

Now that you or your child has graduated, it’s time to start looking into consolidation.  Here are some reasons why it’s a good idea for most people:

  1. If you have loans from before July 1, 2006  those loans are variable interest rates and those rates will most likely rise this July 1st.  I’ll post when I learn what the new rates are.
  2. Consolidate while in your grace period – this could save you thousands of dollars because consolidations are simply a weighted average of all your federal loans and their interest rates.  For example with Stafford loans, during your grace period your rate is 6.543% while once you enter repayment your rate is 7.143%.  Consolidate before your rate rises and you will save a LOT of money!

April 30, 2007

Who is Eligible for Federal Aid?

Posted in Graduate Students, Grants, Misc, Parent PLUS Loans, Saving for College, Stafford Loans, The Financial Aid Process at 9:04 AM by kpops

In order to be eligible for a Stafford Loan or any other Federal Financial Aid you must be one of the following…

  • U.S. Citizen
  • U.S. National (Includes Natives of American Samoa or Swain’s Island
  • U.S. Permanent Resident who has an I-151, I-551, or I-551C (Permanent Resident Card)

If you are not in one of the above mentioned categories, you must have an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing one of the following designations:

  • Refugee
  • Asylum Granted
  • Cuban-Haitian Entrant, Status Pending
  • Conditional Entrant (valid only if issued prior to April 1, 1980)
  • Parolee (Must be paroled in the U.S. for at least one year and must be able to provide evidance from the USCIS that you in the U.S. for other than a temporary purpose and that you intend to become a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident)

You are not eligible for Federal Aid if you only have a Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Resident (I-171 or I-464).

If you are in the U.S. on F1 or F2 Student Visa, or J1 or a J2 exchange visitor visa then you are not eligible for Federal Financial Aid. Also, students with G Series Visa’s are not eligible.

The Student Loan Network: Stafford Federal Student Loans, Parent PLUS Loans, Student Loan Consolidation, Private Student Loans

April 26, 2007

Am I eligible for Loan Forgiveness?

Posted in FAFSA, Graduate Students, The Financial Aid Process at 2:03 PM by kpops

See below for a detailed Stafford and Plus Loan Discharge and Cancellation Summary Chart….

Discharge/Forgiveness Condition




Borrowers total and permanent disability or death*

100 Percent

Plus Loans may be discharged in the event of a death but not the disability of a student for whom the parents borrowed.

Full time teacher for 5 consecutive years in a designated elementary or secondary school serving students from low-income families.

Up to $5,000(up to $17,500 for teachers in certain specialties) of the total loan amount outstanding after the completion of the fifth year of teaching.

Under the Direct and FFEL Consolidation Loan Programs, only the portion of the consolidation loans used to repay eligible Direct Loans or FFEL Loans qualifies for Loan Forgiveness.

Plus Loans are not eligible for teacher loan forgiveness. At least one of your five consecutive years of teaching must occur after the 1997-1998 school year.

Bankruptcy (Rare Cases)

100 Percent

Cancellation is possible only if the bankruptcy court rules that the repayment would cause undue hardship.

Closed School (before the student could complete course of study) or False Loan Certification

100 Percent

For Loans received on or after January 1, 1986.

Identity Theft

100 Percent

Effective July 1, 2006

School does not make requires return of loan funds to lender.

Up to the amount that the school was required to return.

For Loans received on or after Jan. 1, 1986.

Questions….Contact the Department of Education at 800-433-3243. You may also find additional information on

The Student Loan Network: Stafford Federal Student Loans, Parent PLUS Loans, Student Loan Consolidation, Private Student Loans

April 25, 2007

Stafford Loans for Foreign Enrolled Students

Posted in FAFSA, Graduate Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Saving for College, Scholarships, Stafford Loans, The Financial Aid Process at 11:03 AM by kpops

What a lot of students dont realize is that they may still be eligible for Stafford Loans even though they are attending a school overseas. The process for the loan is somewhat different than the process for schools in the U.S.. Your first step is always to complete your Fafsa. This must be done in order to receive any Federal Financial Aid. Once your Fafsa is completed, typically, you would receive an award letter from your schools financial aid office. In the case of a Foreign School this most likely won’t happen. You will need to contact the school and let them know that you are applying for the loan. They will need a copy of a signed Promissory Note and your SAR. The SAR will come from the Department of Education and the Promissory Note will come from your lender. To obtain a Promissory Note, visit and click apply online. Make sure to sign and mail your Promissory Note to the address mentioned on the application. Mail a copy of the MPN and the SAR to your school. Your school will then certify the loan and the funds will be disbursed.

The Student Loan Network: Stafford Federal Student Loans, Parent PLUS Loans, Student Loan Consolidation, Private Student Loans

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