The Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) includes Federal Stafford Loans for students. FFELP loans will have a lender and a guarantor. The lender can charge an origination fee on Stafford Loans, similar to the points on a home mortgage, of up to 1.5 percent. The guarantor must charge a federal default fee of 1 percent. Those fees are deducted before the loan funds are sent to the student's college. Not all FFELP lenders charge the same fee. The Student Loan People, the state's only public nonprofit student loan provider, charge no origination fee and pays the federal default fee for borrowers. To be smart shoppers, students and parents should find out what fees each lender charges. The lower the fees, the more money the student gets to pay for school.
On PLUS Loans for parents of undergraduate students and for graduate students, lenders are required to charge a 3 percent origination fee, while guarantors must charge the 1 percent default fee. Some lenders will pay the default fee for borrowers.
Students and parents should also see what benefits lenders offer when they're paying back Stafford loans. Many FFELP lenders offer interest rate reductions for automatic withdrawals and reductions to the principal for a history of on-time payments. The Student Loan People offer BestStart Stafford loans with better benefits than most national lenders. The agency also offers BestPLUS loans for parents borrowing to pay for a child's undergraduate education and BestGrad Loans for graduate and professional students.
In addition, some lenders offer benefits when it comes to paying back student loans. Before picking a lender, students and parents should compare lenders to see which offers the best benefits both when taking out the loan and when paying it back. Choosing the right lender can save them hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
To learn how to plan and prepare for higher education, visit www.GoHigherKY.org. For more information about Kentucky scholarships and grants, visit www.kheaa.com ; write KHEAA, P.O. Box 798, Frankfort, KY 40602-0798; or call (800) 928-8926, extension 7381.