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With the highest mean elevation of any state, Colorado is home to over 1,000 peaks in the Rocky Mountain range. But the Centennial State isn’t just known for hiking and skiing — it’s also home to more than 60 colleges and universities serving 200,000-plus students.
If you’re heading to the University of Denver, the University of Colorado Boulder or another Colorado college, you might be searching for options to pay for school. And while grants and scholarships are the best way to go, you might also need to take out student loans to cover costs.
Read on to learn about all your options for borrowing student loans in Colorado. And if you already have loans, keep scrolling to learn how student loan refinancing could help you save money on your repayment.
|Colorado Student Debt: At a Glance|
|Average debt upon graduation||$26,530|
|Percent of students who graduate with debt||52|
|National ranking for average debt upon graduation||36|
|National average debt upon graduation (Class of 2017)||$39,400|
|Info current as of 2015-16 school year, except when noted
Source: The Institute for College Access & Success
How to get Colorado student loans
The state of Colorado doesn’t have its own student loan program, but it does offer need-based grants, work-study and tuition assistance to qualifying students. Check out Colorado’s Department of Higher Education for more on state-based grants.
With no Colorado state loans, residents and out-of-state students alike have two main options for student loans: federal or private. Once you’ve exhausted your options for scholarships and other free aid, here’s where to head for student loans.
Federal student loans
Your first stop should be Federal Student Aid, the part of the Department of Education that manages the government’s financial aid program. To qualify for federal student loans and other financial aid, you’ll need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
There are two main types of federal student loans for undergraduate students, subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized loans go to those with financial need, and they don’t accrue interest until six months after you leave school. But anyone can borrow unsubsidized loans as long as they’re attending an eligible school, but these begin racking up interest immediately.
Both of these loans come with relatively low fixed interest rates of 5.05% for undergraduates for the 2018-19 school year, and they’re eligible for many federal protections, including income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, deferment and forbearance, and federal loan forgiveness programs.
But these federal student loans come with borrowing limits, so you might still have a gap in funding after you borrow. In this case, you have a couple of options. First, your parents could borrow a parent PLUS loan, which comes with a 7.60% rate for 2018-19 and essentially has no limit.
Or you could try to get a better offer from a private lender.
Note that graduate students can also borrow PLUS loans up to the cost of attendance of their school. But before you borrow a PLUS loan as a graduate student or parent, you might want to explore your options for private student loans to see if you can get a lower rate.
Private student loans
Once you’ve run through all your federal student loan options, you could consider a private student loan from a bank, credit union or online lender.
Unlike federal student loans, you’ll need to pass a credit check to qualify. Most undergraduate students can’t meet credit and income requirements on their own, so they apply with a cosigner, such as a parent. Your cosigner will be equally responsible for your debt, so make sure you’re on the same page about who’s responsible for repayment.
Unlike federal student loans, private loans can come with fixed or variable rates. You often have a choice when you borrow, and you can choose repayment terms, often ranging between five and 20 years.
Most lenders offer a grace period to college students, but they often don’t have the same flexibility when it comes to repayment as the federal government. For instance, private lenders don’t typically offer IDR plans, and only a few allow for deferment or forbearance.
What’s more, private student loans aren’t eligible for federal forgiveness programs, though they might qualify for some student loan repayment assistance programs. Make sure you understand the differences between private and federal student loans before borrowing from a private lender.
If you decide to borrow, though, check out these providers of private student loans in Colorado.
- Credit Union of Colorado
- Finances student loans of up to $10,000 a year for a maximum of $70,000
- Offers APRs starting at 8.25% as of Oct. 12, 2018
- Elevations Credit Union
- Partners with Sallie Mae to provide the Smart Option Student Loan
- Offers variable rates from 4.12% to 11.85%
- Ent Credit Union
- Connects borrowers with the Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan
- Finances loans up to the cost of attendance of your school
- Vectra Bank Colorado
- Works with Sallie Mae to provide the Smart Option Student Loan
- Offers variable rates from 4.12% to 11.85%
- Citizens Bank
- Finances undergraduate loans up to $100,000
- Annual rates from 4.26% to 12.13%
- College Ave Student Loans
- Finances student loans starting at $1,000
- Offers student loan repayment terms of five, eight, 10 or 15 years
- Has rates from 2.88% to 8.00%
Each lender sets its terms and conditions, so it’s a good idea to shop around. Look for factors such as low interest rates, good customer reviews and flexible repayment options before choosing a loan provider, and check out our private student loan marketplace for more choices.
How to refinance Colorado loans
The average Colorado student graduated owing $26,530 in 2017. This amount of debt is a lot to manage when you’re starting in the workforce after graduation. On a 10-year plan at a 5.50% interest rate, for instance, you’d be facing monthly payments of $288.
If you left school with debt, you might be looking for strategies to manage it better. Student loan refinance is one option, since it could combine multiple loans into one and get you a lower interest rate.
Refinancing can also allow you to choose new repayment terms. A shorter term would let you pay off your debt faster and save money on interest. A longer term, though, could be helpful if you want to make your monthly payments more affordable. And, remember, you can always make extra payments without penalty to get out of debt ahead of schedule.
To qualify for refinancing, you’ll need a strong credit score and steady income. If you can’t qualify — or want to get an even more competitive rate — you could apply with a creditworthy cosigner. Note that some lenders offer cosigner release after a few years of on-time payment.
Before you refinance, note that this decision could have some downsides. You can refinance both private and federal student loans, but if you refinance federal loans, you turn them private. As a result, you’ll no longer be eligible for income-driven plans or federal forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness or Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
If you’re worried about your ability to pay back a refinanced student loan, you probably shouldn’t sacrifice these federal protections. But if you’re confident you can keep up with payments, refinancing could simplify your debt repayment and get you a better deal.
Here’s a selection of reputable lenders for refinancing Colorado student loans, though you can also check our marketplace for more options.
- Ent Credit Union
- Provides a refinancing loan that consolidates multiple loans into one
- Offers repayment terms up to 120 months
- Partners with LendKey to provide student loan refinancing to qualifying borrowers
- Refinances up to $125,000 in undergraduate loans or up to $175,000 in graduate loans
- Offers variable rates starting at 5.75% as of Oct. 12, 2018
- Refinances student loans between $5,000 and $500,000
- Rates currently range from 2.69% to 7.25%
- Offers student loan refinancing loans of between $5,000 and $500,000
- Rates run from 2.47% to 6.97%
- Laurel Road
- Carries repayment terms of five, seven, 10, 15 or 20 years
- Currently offering rates from 3.02% to 7.02%
- Refinances student loans starting at $5,000
- Current rates range from 2.47% to 7.98%
Since each refinancing provider has its own terms, compare your options from several before selecting one. That way, you can refinance your student loans at the best rates.
The bottom line: Student loans in Colorado
With some of the best hiking and mountain biking trails in the country, it’s no wonder Colorado is known as one of the healthiest states. And if you make smart choices with your student loans, you can make sure your personal finances stay in shape, too.
Although taking on too much student debt can be a major source of stress, borrowing a manageable amount could be what you need to earn your degree. Make sure you understand what you’re getting into and come up with a plan for repayment.
Whether you’re borrowing for the first time or refinancing student loans you already have, take time to compare all your options. By doing your due diligence, you can breathe easy knowing you’ve found a Colorado student loan with the best possible terms and conditions.
Note: Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to student loan interest rates and terms. The financial institutions mentioned have neither provided nor reviewed the information shared in this article prior to publish.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
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 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.30% 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 Month/Day/Year, 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 08/21/18. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 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.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
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.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). 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 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 6.30%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.51% – 8.09%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.02% – 6.44%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.21%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|