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Strafford Loans

A Stafford Loan is a student loan offered to eligible students enrolled in accredited American institutions of higher education to help finance their education. The terms of the loans are described in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (with subsequent amendments), which guarantees repayment to the lender if a student defaults.

Because the loans are guaranteed by the full faith of the US Government, they are offered at a lower interest rate than the borrower would otherwise be able to get for a private loan. On the other hand, there are strict eligibility requirements and borrowing limits on Stafford loans.

Students applying for a Stafford loan or other federal financial aid must first complete a FAFSA. Stafford loans are available to students either directly from the United States Department of Education through the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP, also known as Direct) or from a financial intermediary (such as Chase, Sallie Mae or Student Loan Corp.) through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

No payments are expected on the loan while the student is enrolled as a full or half time student. This is referred to as in-school deferment. Deferment of repayment continues for six months after the student leaves school either by graduating, dropping below half-time enrollment, or withdrawing. This is referred to as the Grace Period.

Stafford loans are available both as subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Subsidized loans are offered to students based on demonstrated financial need. The interest on Subsidized loans is paid by the federal government while the student is in school, during the grace period, and during authorized deferment. For unsubsidized Stafford loans, students are responsible for all of the interest that accrues while the student is enrolled in school. The interest may be deferred throughout enrollment. Unpaid interest that is deferred until after graduation is capitalized (added to the loan principal).

As of July 1, 2006 all Stafford loans are issued with a fixed interest rate. For Direct loans and most loan providers, the rate is currently set at 6.80%.

As the new rate goes into effect, some loan providers are foregoing portions of the margin they are entitled to under the Federal program, offering interest rates lower than the standard rate. Many are also offering price incentives related to payment history, direct debit, etc. Collectively, interest rate reductions, principal reductions, and origination fee discounts are known as Borrower Benefits.

In addition, in repealing the Single Holder Rule, Congress also allows loan providers to compete for college consolidation loans that are available to students and former students with multiple loans. Specialized consolidation lenders and student loan providers compete on various incentives to attract customers.

Student Loan Articles

Student Loan Repayment Information

Postponing Your Student Loan Repayment

Paying for College ... The Smart Way

Student Loans: Avoiding Deceptive Offers

Student Loan Consolidation

Direct Loan Repayment Plans

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Student Loan Debt


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