For Maryland residents, college can come at a hefty cost. Tuition for in-state residents averaged $6,350 for the 2017-18 academic year, according to College Tuition Compare.
The average debt after graduating from a four-year public or private school in Maryland is more than $27,000, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
If you’re worried about paying for college, you might need to tap into Maryland student loans. Don’t worry if you’ve already graduated because there are options for current and former students.
See how you can get the best options before and after college.
Maryland student loans
Once you’ve completed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, you’ll begin to learn how much money you’ll receive in grants, scholarships, and loans.
For extra help, browse through state-specific grants and scholarships for Maryland students. Some might require extra forms for you to be eligible, though.
The financial aid award letter you receive will detail your Expected Family Contribution. To determine how much money you’ll need to borrow, you have to know much aid you’ll receive.
Federal student loans
Your award letter also will tell you how much money you’re able to receive from loans. For Maryland students, there are a few student loan options for you:
Direct Subsidized Loans: These loans are available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The government covers the cost of interest while you’re in school.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These loans are available to students regardless of need. The interest starts accruing as soon as the loan is taken out.
Direct PLUS Loans: These loans are available to parents who want to help cover costs for their college-enrolled child.
Interest rates on federal loans are typically lower than for private student loans. Also, federal loans give you more flexibility in paying back your loans after school, including through income-driven repayment plans.
Private student loans
If you’re still coming up short on college funds, you can tap into private student loans.
Private student loans are more stringent than federal loans. They aren’t based on need, so other factors determine your eligibility.
Private lenders, such as banks and credit unions, check your credit when you apply for a loan. If you have poor credit, your interest rate could be higher than with a federal student loan.
Private loans don’t have the same flexibility as federal loans. Income-driven repayment plans are available only through federal loan programs. And if you want to explore your private student loan consolidation options, you’ll have to work with a private lender.
Keep all this in mind when you apply.
Maryland student loan forgiveness programs
After graduation, you might get the chance to have your loans forgiven if you meet certain criteria. Besides federal student loan forgiveness plans, there are a few different programs just for Maryland students.
Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program (LARP)
To qualify for LARP, you need to be a resident who provides public service to low-income or underserved residents in state or local government or at a nonprofit agency in Maryland. If you’re not in default on a loan and your gross income doesn’t exceed $60,000 a year, you might be eligible for this program.
Maryland Dent-Care Loan Assistance Repayment Program (MDC-LARP)
The MDC-LARP is a student loan repayment program for dentists. You must be a Maryland resident and a graduate of a U.S. dental school. It’s not based on need, but you could receive up to $23,740 per year for each year of obligated service up to a maximum of three years.
Nancy Grasmick Teacher Award
To be eligible to receive the Nancy Grasmick Teacher Award, you need to have taught in Maryland for the past two years and provide proof of your student loan debt. You must meet the LARP requirements to qualify.
To qualify for the Maryland SmartBuy homebuyer assistance and forgiveness program, you need to purchase a home owned by the state. If you have at least 5% for a down payment, the state of Maryland will provide up to 15% of the purchase price toward outstanding student loans.
Consolidating and refinancing Maryland student loans
If you’ve already graduated from college and aren’t sure how to tackle your student loans, you’ve got options.
Refinancing your student loans will replace multiple loans with a single loan. It also might lower your monthly payments. This is helpful if you’re struggling to make your payments, but it means you could take longer to pay off your loan.
Explore all your options when you’re planning to refinance and don’t settle. Consider the interest rate (is it fixed or variable?) and repayment term (is it five, 10, or 20 years?) to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
You also can look into consolidating your loans. If you have federal loans, you can explore Direct Loan Consolidation, which will combine your federal loans into one streamlined loan for easy payment.
Student loans don’t need to hold you back
Whether you’re exploring your options as you enter school or looking for ways to alleviate your debt after graduation, you have ways to save on student loans.
Land as much free money as you can through grants and scholarships before taking out student loans.
If you need loans, try federal student loans before you consider private options. It’s OK to get loans for school as long as you use them wisely.
Don’t let your Maryland student loans hold you back from financial freedom.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
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