Understanding The Principles Of The Stafford Student Loan Scheme
The Stafford student loan has been with us for more than 40 years now and this short article gives a basic introduction to this very popular Federal education loan.
Back in 1965 Congress launched the Federal Family Education Loan Program to provide financial assistance to students. One element of this loans program is Stafford loans which were initially intended to help only those students in real financial need but which today account for more than ninety percent of all Federal education loans.
Since their inception Stafford loans have altered with changing conditions and now there are two main types of the loan - subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans.
In the case of subsidized loans the Federal Government takes responsibility for the payment of any interest accruing on a loan from the date of issue until the student has to start making repayments. Usually a student does not have to make repayments while he is enrolled on a program of study that is considered to be a 'half-time' or greater program of study and for a period of up to six months after the end of his course. However, a student can begin making payments at an earlier point if he so chooses.
Since interest on the loan is being subsidized, these loans are normally granted only on the basis of need and officials will consider both a student's and his family's income when deciding whether or not a student qualifies for a subsidized Stafford loan. Students need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application form that includes details of income and the student is then given a number known as the Expected Family Contribution calculated from the income figures provided.
Around two-thirds of all subsidized Stafford loans are granted to students whose parents have an Adjusted Gross Income of less than $50,000 a year. A further one-quarter are granted to families in the $50-100,000 a year bracket. At this point however the definition of the term 'need' becomes a bit blurred and slightly under one-tenth of subsidized loans are given to students with a combined family income of over $100,000.
In the case of those students who do not qualify for a subsidized loan most will be eligible for an unsubsidized Stafford loan. The major difference here is that students must meet all interest payments on the loan, though once more payment do not generally start until six months after the completion of the student's course of study.
The mechanics of unsubsidized Stafford loans means that a loan can be reasonably costly because interest builds over the period of study and so the capital sum for eventual repayment will also increase. Let's take an extremely simplified example.
Let us assume that a student borrows the sum of $5,000 in his first year at an interest rate of 6.8%. At the end of the year the interest due is $340 which will be added to the loan. In the second year the student will accrue interest on the new capital sum of $5,340 at 6.8% which will come to about $363 raising the total debt at the end of the second year to $5,703. Of course this is not wholly accurate because interest is calculated and added monthly but it does nonetheless show the principles underlying this type of loan.
Dependent upon the amount of money that the student borrows each year and the length of time before repayment begins you can see that a student can pay a relatively high price for the benefit of delaying the repayment of a Stafford loan.
In spite of this apparently high cost it ought to be remembered that a lot of the alternative methods for meeting the cost of a college education are much more costly and that a lot of students could not afford to go to college without the Stafford loans scheme.
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