What are Stafford Loans?

Stafford Loans are federal loans given to students, that have low fixed interest rates (dependent on when loan is taken out). CFNC.org is an excellent resource for reading up on several financial aid options for North Carolina residents and I have used this website as a source for the following information listed in this article. There are two forms of the Stafford Loan: the Subsidized and the Unsubsidized Loan.

The Subsidized Stafford Loan is for students that demonstrate financial need. Before “financial need” is determined, it is required that you first complete the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The school that you are applying to, or attend will then determine if you demonstrate financial need, and are eligible for the Subsidized Stafford Loan.

The subsidized loan is great because the government pays for the fixed interest rate while you are in school (enrolled at least half-time). The unsubsidized loan differs, however because students are entirely responsible for interest while in school or it can be added to the loan amount and paid after school (or after you are no longer enrolled at least half-time status). After graduation or when you are no longer enrolled at half time status, you are given a six month grace period before you have to make payments. The amount you are eligible to borrow varies by year in school, and by which loan you qualify for. Visit the link below for additional details.

Information on Federal Stafford Loans

To run through the steps quickly and in chronological order: 1) Apply for the FAFSA early (preferably well before your schools priority date) 2) Check the financial award package your school has provided for you and see which loan you qualify for 3) Complete the master promissory note and chose your lender(if eligible). Based on past experience I strongly suggest using CFI (College Foundation, Inc.) as a lender and using the CFNC website for completing your master promissory note online. I recommend this website because everything is in one place, and it is relatively simple to navigate for the Federal Stafford Loan and several other loan options. If you don’t qualify for the Stafford loan, the Parent PLUS Loan is another great option. This loan is given to parents and the maximum amount you can get is the cost of your attendance minus the financial aid you are awarded. If your parents applied but didn’t qualify for this loan, you can now borrow the maximum amount given by the Stafford Loan. So if your school doesn’t award you the Stafford Loan, try the PLUS loan and apply again for a Stafford Loan. More information about this process can be found at the link below:

Federal Student Aid Programs

The repayment period for the Stafford Loan is approximately 10 years. The Stafford loan is a major commitment but it is often a necessary cost. The reasonably low, fixed interest rate, however is the best deal out there for students, in most cases. The Federal Stafford Loan is advantageous because the rate is fixed unlike private loans and students would be hard pressed to find a lower interest rate than Uncle Sam’s offer. Keep in mind that if these options don’t work for you, there are always private loans and other financial aid options. Don’t let the cost of education, keep you from pursuing a degree. Please visit the links and the websites below to learn about more financial aid options for all students, in nearly every situation.


Sybria White

Sybria White

Sybria White is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon graduation in May 2010, she will leave Carolina with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, a Certificate in Career Development and will be awarded a Public Service Scholar. She plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Health following taking a year off to contribute to a National Service Program, such as AmeriCorps. Her undergraduate career has taught her the value of a sociological perspective, which has influenced her dedication to public service. She is a volunteer for W.D. Hill Recreation center, Peer mentor for minority students and has served as an active member of several campus organizations such as Sociology club, North Carolina Health Careers and Access Program, Community Government, and Minority Advising just to name a few.

Apart from contributing public service and active involvement on campus, Sybria is very passionate about creative writing and writing in general and hopes to bring a sociological point of view to her articles. Her interests outside of writing and public service include reading books concerning fashion and spending time with her family.

A well rounded curriculum involving Business and English academics in addition to sociology, have helped shaped this young writers’ unique voice. She is eager to share her newly acquired skills and looks forward to helping others approach every day problems from a new, and perhaps, sociological outlook.
Sybria White

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