Arizonans have one of the smallest average student loan balances in the nation, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
With an average student loan balance of $23,447, the state ranks 47th in the U.S. That number is also well below the national average student loan balance of $39,400. What’s more, only 49% of Arizona college graduates resorted to taking out student loans to finish school.
Getting through college without debt is ideal, but it’s not always possible. If you need Arizona student loans to help you cover the costs of your education, it’s important to know where to look to get the best interest rates and terms.
Arizona student loans
If you’re a student at one of Arizona’s 44 colleges, federal and private student loans might be available to help you pay for college. And if you’re a teacher, you might be eligible for a forgivable loan through the Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program.
Federal student loans
Whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate student or a parent who wants to help your child pay for school, there are a few federal loan options that can help you. Depending on the loan type, you might have access to special benefits, such as income-driven repayment (IDR) plans and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Also, federal loans typically have lower interest rates than private student loans. Here’s a summary of what’s available (interest rates and fees are current as of May 21, 2018):
|Loan type||Designed for||Requires a credit check?||Interest rates||Loan fees|
|Direct Subsidized Loans||Undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need||No||4.45%||1.066%|
|Direct Unsubsidized Loans||Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students||No||4.45% for undergraduates, 6.00% for graduate and professional students||1.066%|
|Direct PLUS Loans||Graduate and professional students and parents of undergraduate students||Yes||7.00%||4.264%|
Private student loans
If federal student loans aren’t enough to cover your college costs, private student loans might be your next best choice. One major drawback, though, is that they require a credit check. So if you’re new to credit or don’t have a stellar track record with debt, you might need to find a cosigner to get approved.
The best private student loan companies offer competitive interest rates and terms, but they typically don’t offer special benefits such as IDR plans and student loan forgiveness. Here are some of the top examples:
|Student loan company||Variable interest rates||Fixed interest rates||Origination fees|
|LendKey||As low as 4.63%||As low as 5.36%||None|
|Citizens Bank||3.94% – 11.91%||5.25% – 12.19%||None|
|College Ave||3.54% – 10.81%||5.31% – 12.07%||None|
Check out these and other top private student loans and compare their terms to see if one is right for you.
The Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program
If you plan to start a career in teaching in the Arizona public school system, you might qualify for the Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program. The loan is need-based and qualifies you for forgiveness if you meet the requirements.
You can receive up to $7,000 per academic year for up to three years, excluding all grants, scholarships, and other tuition benefits. In exchange, you agree to teach in an Arizona public school for as many years as you received the loan plus one year.
So if you received the loan for the maximum of three years, you’re required to work in the Arizona public school system for at least four years. Otherwise, you’ll need to start making payments.
Eligibility requirements include:
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.
- Be a resident of Arizona for at least the previous 12 months.
- Be enrolled at least half time and working on a teaching degree or a teacher certification program.
- Be a junior or higher (at least 55 completed credit hours).
- Have financial need.
Refinancing Arizona student loans
If you’re already out of school, refinancing your Arizona student loans could help you lower your interest rate, monthly payment, or both. Many student loan refinancing companies offer both fixed and variable interest rates, plus various repayment terms, to potentially give you more flexibility.
Like private in-school student loans, refinancing requires a credit check, so you might need a cosigner. And if you refinance federal student loans, you could lose your access to IDR plans and forgiveness programs. Here are three of the top student loan refinancing companies:
|Student loan company||Variable interest rates||Fixed interest rates||Minimum loan balance|
|CommonBond||2.57% – 6.65%||3.20% – 6.65%||$5,000|
|Earnest||2.57% – 5.87%||3.25% – 6.32%||$5,000|
|SoFi||2.63% – 7.70%||3.40% – 7.75%||$5,000|
To improve your chances of getting a lower interest rate, compare several student loan refinancing companies and look at rates, repayment terms, and other features that fit your needs.
Maintain a long-term perspective
If you need to borrow to get through school, it’s critical that you consider all your options to make sure you get the lowest rates and best terms available.
Before you get to that point, however, look for ways to reduce your reliance on student loans. Research scholarships and grants, get a part-time job, and consider transferring to a more affordable school.
None of these steps will be easy, but you’ll be glad you did the extra legwork once you’ve graduated and have to start making payments. As you approach your student loans with a long-term perspective, you’ll have an easier time paying them down when the time comes.
Note: Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to student loans. None of the financial institutions mentioned have provided or reviewed the information shared in this article.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
1 = Citizens Disclaimer.
2 = CollegeAve Autopay Disclaimer: All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
3 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
|3.54% – 12.07%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CollegeAve|
|3.95% – 12.10%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Ascent|
|4.00% – 11.85%*3||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SallieMae|
|3.94% – 12.19%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit Citizens|
|4.63% – 9.71%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit LendKey|
|3.62% – 9.79%||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CommonBond|