Refinance rates with Laurel Road start at 1.89%.
Checking your rates won’t affect your score.
Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and relief efforts from the government and many lenders. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.
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If you’re headed to college in Big Sky Country, you might need to borrow some Montana student loans. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, an estimated 57% of undergraduates in the state leave school with student loans, and the average debt among those earning bachelor’s degrees is $28,032.
Whether you’re currently studying in Montana or have already graduated with debt, it’s important to understand your student loan options. This guide explains different sources of funding so you can afford school or manage your current loans — specifically:
As a Montana student, your first stop for borrowing should be Federal Student Aid. As long as you’re attending an accredited college, you should be able to apply for federal student loans. Federal loan options include:
- Direct subsidized loans: Undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need might be eligible for Direct subsidized loans. These loans come with a low fixed interest rate: 2.75% for loans disbursed between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021. There’s also a 1.062% origination fee. The government covers the interest on subsidized loans while a student is in school and during deferment. There are annual and aggregate limits on the amount students can borrow.
- Direct unsubsidized loans: Both undergraduate and graduate students in Montana can obtain Direct unsubsidized loans, and there’s no requirement to demonstrate financial need. The loan origination fee is the same for Direct unsubsidized loans as for Direct subsidized loans. Undergraduates also pay 2.75% interest for loans disbursed between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021. But graduate students pay 4.3% interest. There are also annual and aggregate limits on Direct unsubsidized loans, but limits are higher for graduate students.
- PLUS loans: Graduate students and parents of undergraduate students might be eligible for PLUS loans. You can borrow up to the cost of attendance minus other aid received. Creditworthiness matters when applying for PLUS loans. Those with an adverse credit history might be denied. The loan origination fee for PLUS loans is 4.236%. These loans also come with a fixed interest rate of 5.3% for loans disbursed between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021.
Federal loans have significant advantages over private student loans, including flexible repayment options, such as income-driven repayment (IDR). An IDR plan can reduce your monthly loan payments to a small percentage of your income. Students who fund their education with federal loans might also be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness if they work in qualifying jobs and follow program requirements.
Need help understanding your federal student loan options? Reach Higher Montana is an in-state organization that provides assistance for federal student loan borrowers, as well as college and career planning.
While you won’t find a Montana student loan program for all students, you can access specialized loans if you’re attending a certain school or program in the state.
For example, nursing loans are available to Montana State University students who have demonstrated financial need and are enrolled in the school’s nursing program. There’s no fee for these nursing loans. Further, students aren’t obligated to make payments during school or for nine months after graduation. Loans must be repaid within 10 years and are charged at a fixed interest rate of 5.00% (as of June 23, 2020).
The University of Montana also provides some institutional loans funded through foundations and private donors. There are short-term loans for temporary financial hardship that must be repaid within 90 days, as well as long-term loans through the Henry Strong Educational Foundation.
The interest rate on Henry Strong Loans is 5.00% (also as of June 23, 2020). The debt must be repaid within five years. Both undergraduate and graduate or professional students are eligible for this loan, but students must be enrolled in a “practical, literary, scientific, mechanical, or business” major, according to the school website.
Students are eligible if they have an unmet financial need and have maxed out federal loan options. Contact your school’s financial aid office for more information about institutional or state-based aid that might be available to you.
Though federal student loans often offer more benefits to borrowers, private student loans can be a useful tool to cover gaps in school funding. Most private lenders allow students or parents to borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance.
Students have many options for private student loans, and parents can borrow in their own names. Finding the right lender is important, so start with our list of the best private lenders for student loans.
Compare repayment terms, interest rates, and loan requirements to find your best deal. Students who can’t get a loan on their own could qualify with a cosigner.
Unlike certain other states, Montana doesn’t offer its own student loan refinancing program for residents. But students can refinance with top private lenders. When you refinance, you get a new loan to repay your existing student debt. The new loan should ideally have a lower interest rate and better repayment terms.
You can also consolidate certain federal loans, combining them into one large loan. However, federal consolidation doesn’t lower your interest rate. If your goal is to save money over the life of your loan by lowering your interest rate, refinancing with a private lender is your best bet.
Consider the decision carefully. Although refinancing can reduce your costs and make it easier to manage loans by consolidating your debt, it does have its faults. For instance, you could lose borrower benefits, such as access to IDR plans, by refinancing federal loans.
Which student loans are right for you?
As with any debt, the less you borrow for school, the better.
Explore other options to fund your schooling without loans, such as grants and scholarships. Some schools in Montana also offer additional help for students. For example, Montana State University offers a Matched Education Savings Account to help qualifying low-income students afford an education.
By comparing all available options for Montana student loans, you can find the financing solutions that are right for your situation.
Rebecca Safier contributed to this article.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2021!
|1.04% – 11.98%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|1.13% – 11.23%*,2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|3.80% – 9.36%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.05% – 11.44%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.22% – 11.66%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|2.76% – 7.14%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.24% – 11.99%7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|* 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. |
1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay 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.
Information advertised valid as of 4/22/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Lowest advertised rates require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
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. If you choose to complete an application, we will conduct a hard credit pull, which may affect your credit score. 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 Earnest.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 11.26% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.22% to 11.66% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 11.37% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.12% to 11.73% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.30% to 11.52% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.29% to 11.89% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.60% to 10.76% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.22% to 11.16% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. 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. Information current as of 4/1/2021. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.76% – 7.14% (2.76% – 7.14% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 3.01% – 7.50% (3.01% – 7.50% APR).
Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.19% – 6.73% (2.19% – 6.73% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 2.89% – 7.09% (2.89%-7.09% APR).
Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.36% – 9.54% (1.36% – 8.82% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.13% – 9.84% (4.13% – 9.12% APR).
Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.36% – 8.34% (1.36% – 8.04% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.03% – 8.64% (4.03% – 8.34% APR).
Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.10% – 7.41% (2.10%-7.41% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.69% – 7.83% (4.69% – 7.83% APR).
Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 4.45% – 9.60% (4.45% – 9.53% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.38% – 12.81% APR).
Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.55% – 7.05% (3.55% – 6.77% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.97% – 10.07% APR).
Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of March 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.11%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank participating school.
Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7 Important Disclosures for Discover.
Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.