Arkansas Student Loans: Debt Stats, Repayment Programs and Refinancing Loans

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Federal and private student loan borrowers owe an average of $31,118 in Arkansas, which is 15% less than the national average of $36,689.

Yet, students looking to borrow less in student loans by reducing their educational expenses could score a win in Arkansas, as the state offers free tuition (with a catch) to eligible students in some career fields.

Here are details you should know about Arkansas student loans.

Arkansas student loans: Borrowers owe average of $31,118 in federal, private debt — and more facts

Arkansas has developed several programs to help students in the state, centralizing information through Fund My Future. Here are some opportunities to research if you want to minimize your student debt while attending school in Arkansas.

  • Arkansas Future Grant: Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students or those studying in regional high-demand areas can get their tuition covered for certificate and associate degree programs at public schools in the state.
  • Woodruff Scholarship: The Arkansas Student Loan Authority offers several $1,000 scholarships to incoming and current students each year, one of which would be renewable for up to four years.
  • Arkansas Health Education Grant: This grant provides financial assistance to students who want to attend out-of-state schools in medical fields, such as chiropractic medicine, dentistry and optometry — and even those who wish to attend veterinary school.
  • Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship: This is awarded to high school seniors with outstanding academic achievement. It can cover up to $10,000 a year in tuition, fees, and room and board.
  • Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship: Up to $4,000 is available to help fund the cost of undergraduates pursuing in-depth research projects alongside faculty.

Arkansas has more than 40 postsecondary institutions, including 22 two-year colleges, 10 public universities and 12 private universities. Remember to inquire at the particular school you’re interested in to see what school-specific grants or scholarships might be available.

Student loan debt by ZIP code in Arkansas’ largest county: Pulaski

Loan repayment programs for Arkansas residents

If you already have Arkansas student loans, here are repayment options designed for state residents.

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program

The federal NHSC Loan Repayment Program is designed for licensed primary care medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health providers who are working in areas with reduced health care access. The maximum award amount is $50,000 for two years of full-time service. Members are able to reapply to continue their service after their initial commitment.

Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program

Registered nurses and nurse practitioners could qualify for the federal Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program to help repay up to 85% of nursing school debt. Awardees must work for two years in facilities with a critical nursing shortage or as nurse faculty in an eligible school. Upon qualifying, you’ll receive funds to cover 60% of your total outstanding education loans, with the opportunity to potentially extend your contract and cover the next 25%.

State Teacher Education Program (STEP)

STEP is administered by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education to help eligible teachers repay their federal student loans. To be eligible, you must live in Arkansas and hold a teacher’s licence in the state. Plus, you have to be teaching full time in a public school. The award is for up to $3,000 annually for each year a teacher works in an area of the state with a critical teacher shortage, or teaches a subject for which there’s a teacher shortage. Minority teachers could receive an additional $1,000 annually for working in shortage areas.

Students to Service (S2S) Loan Repayment Program

The federal S2S Loan Repayment Program helps medical students during their final year if the students will commit to providing primary health care services in eligible areas where there’s a shortage of health care providers. If you qualify, you’ll receive up to $30,000 annually for four years toward your loan repayment. You could also receive complete repayment of qualifying loans after your original service term if you qualify for one-year continuation contracts.

Arkansas federal student loan borrowers younger than 25 owe less than national average — and more comparisons

How to refinance Arkansas student loans

For many borrowers, particularly the 6.2% of Arkansas student loan borrowers who owe $100,000 or more in student loans, refinancing could be advantageous. Refinancing could help you save money in interest that can be applied to your loan principal to reduce your debt faster.

Student loan refinancing involves a new loan offered by a private lender that repays your original federal or private student loans. If you have stronger credit at the time you refinance, you could get a better interest rate, potentially saving you a lot of money.

Not just that, but refinancing can simplify your loan repayment by consolidating multiple loans into one payment each month. You can opt to refinance your student loans through an online lender, bank or credit union. In Arkansas, you could also refinance your student loans with the Arkansas Student Loan Authority, which offers fixed rates and a cosigner release option.

Keep in mind: When you refinance federal student loans, you’ll lose any government protections for student loan borrowers, such as income-driven repayment, forbearance or loan forgiveness options. While some private lenders might offer similar programs, they aren’t the same as the federal options — especially when it comes to deferment or forbearance. And any federal student loan legislation wouldn’t apply to your new private loans.

Sources

  • U.S. Department of Education data as of June 30, 2020
  • Anonymized My LendingTree June 2020 credit reports
  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax as of June 2020
  • mappingstudentdebt.org

Because the latter data is from 2015, researchers estimated the increase in student loan debt per borrower in the state using statewide data from anonymized credit reports.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.89% – 5.99%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.99% – 5.64%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.99% – 6.84%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.91% – 5.25%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.25% – 6.53%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

2.17% – 4.47%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit PenFed

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of Feburary 1, 2021.


2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. ‍All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.


4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: 1. Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.99% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.53% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.12% plus 2.38% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the interest savings are applied to the principal loan balance, which may help pay the loan down faster. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score.Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

6 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.99%-5.15% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.17%-4.47% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.