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Only 57% of Missouri graduates left school with student loans in 2016, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. Those that did take on debt had an average balance of $27,532, which is well below the current average student loan balance of $39,400.
In an ideal world, you’d be part of the 43% of Missouri students who didn’t go into debt for college. But if you can’t manage to get through school without Missouri student loans, it’s essential that you know where to go to get the best student loan interest rates and other terms.
Missouri student loans
Like students in other states, Missourians have access to federal and private student loans to help them cover the cost of college.
Federal student loans
Depending on where you are in school or if you’re a parent trying to help your child pay for school, the U.S. Department of Education offers a few federal loan options.
|Loan type||Designed for||Requires a credit check?||Interest rates||Loan fee|
|Direct Subsidized Loans||Undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need||No||5.05%||1.066%|
|Direct Unsubsidized Loans||Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students||No||5.05% for undergraduates, 6.60% for graduate and professional students||1.066%|
|Direct PLUS Loans||Graduate and professional students, and parents of undergraduate students||Yes||7.60%||4.264%|
Private student loans
If federal loans aren’t enough to cover your education expenses, you can also consider private student loans. These loans require a credit check, so you may need to find a cosigner if your credit history is bad or limited.
While these lenders typically don’t offer IDR plans or loan forgiveness, the best private student loan companies provide borrowers with competitive interest rates and terms. Here are some of the top examples, including rates:
|Lender||Variable interest rates||Fixed interest rates||Origination fee|
|CommonBond||3.72% – 9.68%||5.30% – 9.82%||2%|
|College Ave Student Loans||3.69% – 10.94%||5.29% – 12.07%||None|
|Ascent||3.82% – 12.82%||5.54% – 14.59%||None|
Check out these and other private student lenders to determine if one is the right choice for you.
Missouri Health Professional Nursing Student Loans
If you’re a resident of Missouri attending a Missouri school and are in a program that leads to licensure as a practical or professional nurse, you could qualify for a loan through the state’s Health Professional Nursing Student Loans program.
The loan is eligible for forgiveness if you serve at any hospital in the state or in an area in need. Having two loans forgiven would require two years of service. Here’s what you need to know about the program:
- Licensed practical nurse students can qualify for up to $2,500 a loan.
- Professional nursing students can qualify for up to $5,000 a loan.
- Registered nurses can receive up to $10,000 in forgiveness for a two-year service commitment.
- Advanced practice nurses can receive up to $20,000 in forgiveness for a two-year service commitment.
To qualify, your nursing program must have a pass rate of at least 80%, and you need to maintain a 2.5 GPA. If you choose not to serve in an area in need, the interest rate on your loans is 9.5%.
Refinancing Missouri student loans
If you’ve already graduated, you may feel like you’ve missed the boat on getting lower student loan interest rates. Fortunately, that’s not the case.
You can potentially qualify for a lower interest rate and a lower monthly payment on your Missouri student loans by refinancing them with a private lender.
Student loan refinancing companies typically offer both variable and fixed interest rates, and some of their best rates can even be lower than what the federal government offers.
Like private student loans, these refinancing loans require a credit check. They also generally don’t offer IDR plans or loan forgiveness. Here are a few of the top student loan refinancing companies:
|Student loan company||Variable interest rates||Fixed interest rates||Minimum loan balance||Origination fee|
|First Republic||Not available||1.95% – 4.45%||$40,000||None|
|SoFi||2.48% – 7.52%||3.99% – 7.80%||$5,000||None|
|Earnest||2.57% – 5.87%||3.89% – 6.32%||$5,000||None|
Compare several student loan refinancing companies to increase your chances of getting a low rate. Also, look at repayment terms, fees, and other features to ensure you get the right lender.
Ways to limit your Missouri student loans
Even if Missourians tend to take on less debt than the national average, $27,532 in student loans is still a lot. With a 5% interest rate and a 10-year repayment period, that’s a monthly payment of $292.
So if you’re still in college, it’s important to take steps now to reduce your dependency on student loans so that you can have more financial freedom after you graduate. Here are our top tips:
- Choose an inexpensive college. Attending a “household name” college may look nice on paper. But Missouri has several affordable schools that can offer you a quality education. Consider all your options if you haven’t decided where to go. If you’re already in school and it’s expensive, consider transferring.
- Apply for scholarships. Several organizations and companies offer scholarships, which is free money that you don’t have to pay back. Apply for as many as you can to maximize your chances. Also, be sure to apply for the Student Loan Hero $5K Scholarship while you’re at it.
- Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA form helps the federal government determine if you need financial aid while you’re at college, and how much. Depending on your need, you may qualify for subsidized federal student loans — the government covers your interest while you’re in school — or a Pell Grant, which you typically don’t need to repay.
- Get a job. Missouri student loans won’t cover all your expenses while you’re at school. To pay for living expenses that aren’t included as eligible education expenses, consider finding a part-time or full-time job.
- Finish early. To be a full-time student, you typically only need 12 credit hours a semester. But at many universities, you can take up to 18 credit hours without paying extra tuition. By consistently taking extra credit hours, you may be able to graduate one or two semesters early, saving yourself thousands of dollars.
Reduce, research, and refinance
While you’re still in school, reducing the amount you borrow in student loans should be your top priority. But if you fall short on covering your tuition and living expenses, do your research to ensure that you’re getting the best deal available to you.
After you graduate, learn more about how to refinance your student loans to get a better interest rate or lower monthly payment.
While it’s possible that you won’t qualify for a better rate, you’ll never know if you don’t try. And if you do qualify for a lower rate, you could end up saving hundreds, if not thousands, in interest over the life of your loans.
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.
|3.69% – 10.94%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CollegeAve|
|3.99% – 12.99%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Discover|
|3.82% – 12.82%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Ascent|
|4.12% – 10.98%*3||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SallieMae|
|5.03% – 11.23%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit PNC|
|3.88% – 12.88%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SunTrust|
|4.68% – 9.77%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit LendKey|
|3.72% – 9.68%||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CommonBond|
|4.04% – 12.01%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit Citizens|