The refusal of Congress to hold the interest rate down for subsidized Stafford Loans is a setback to many college students. But there are options.
The state Department of Higher Education says about two-thirds of Missouri’s college graduates are in debt when they get their bachelor’s degree. The average college loan debt in Missouri is about $23,000. The department’s
Assistant commissioner for student loans, Leanne Cardwell, says the rates are going up from 3.4% to 6.8% only on the loans for which the government pays interest while the student remains in school. The non-subsidized Stafford Loans have been at that figure for some time.
She says students should be planning well before they finish high school. She suggests seeking grants and scholarships from state and federal governments and from the institution to provide money that doesn’t have to be paid back before borrowing
She also recommends websites like finaid.org or “Mapping Your Future,” and says the College Board has a lot of good information on its website. One warning from her, though: be wary of those who say they can guarantee scholarships or ask for up-front payments.