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Barbecue, football, the Alamo — Texas is famous for a lot of reasons, but one you might not know about is its robust student loan options.
Home to 148 colleges and other institutions, the Lone Star State supports its booming student population with a variety of low-interest Texas student loans.
Texas college students also leave school with less debt than their peers in other states. According to The Student Loan Report, the average student in Texas left school in 2015 owing $14,469. That’s less than half the national average of student loan debt ($37,172) for class of 2016 graduates.
Low-interest options for Texas student loans
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) offers two types of Texas student loans to qualifying residents.
College Access Loan (CAL) Program
The CAL Program offers educational loans to Texas students who can’t afford their school’s cost of attendance. You can take out as much as you need minus any other federal aid you’ve qualified for. The minimum borrowing amount is $100, and every loan comes with a fixed interest rate of 6.60%.
Along with being a Texas resident, you must satisfy these requirements to qualify:
- At least half-time enrollment in a program that offers a certificate or an associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree
- Satisfactory academic progress, as defined by the school
- Meet credit requirements or apply with a cosigner who has a steady income and a VantageScore of 650 or higher
If you borrow from the CAL Program, you won’t have to start repayment until six months after you leave school. Loans that are less than $30,000 have a maximum repayment period of 10 years. If you borrow more than $30,000, you can request a repayment plan of up to 20 years.
Texas B-On-Time (BOT) Loan program
The BOT Loan program is a hot ticket in the world of Texas student loans. It offers zero-interest loans that can be forgiven after graduation.
However, as of 2015, BOT Loans are no longer available to new borrowers. If you’ve already received a BOT Loan, you still can apply for a renewal.
Students looking to renew must meet these eligibility requirements:
- Texas residency or eligibility for in-state tuition rates as a dependent child of a U.S. armed forces member
- Enrolled full time in an undergraduate degree program
- Eligible for federal financial aid
- Minimum 2.5 GPA while completing at least 75% of attempted credit hours in your last semester
For the 2017-2018 academic year, renewal recipients at four-year colleges can borrow $9,050 per year. Students at public technical colleges can borrow $5,496, and community college students can borrow $3,010.
Although these loans come with a 3% origination fee, you could be off the hook for repayment after graduation. Forgiveness could be granted if you graduate on time with a GPA of at least 3.0.
Other private Texas student loans available
The Higher Education Servicing Corporation (HESC) is a nonprofit that connects students with private Texas student loans. It partners with various lenders to help students take out new education loans or refinance existing ones.
HESC categorizes its Texas student loans into three types: student loans, sponsor loans, and consolidation loans.
Student loans go to the student, who can apply with a cosigner to meet credit requirements. Sponsor loans are granted to parents or sponsors. As the student, you’ll cosign on this loan type. Finally, consolidation loans help you pay off existing private student loans. You can simplify your monthly payments and potentially snag a lower interest rate via the nonprofit’s consolidation loan.
However, Direct Loans from the federal government aren’t eligible for HESC consolidation loans. If you want to refinance federal student loans, you’ll have to do so with another lender, such as Citizens Bank or SoFi.
Here are the three main offerings you’ll find through HESC.
Texas Extra Credit Education Loans
- Borrow from $1,000 to $65,000
- 10- or 15-year repayment term
- Options of immediate, interest-only, or deferred repayment
- No origination fee
- Variable or fixed interest rates
- Cosigner release after 24 months of on-time repayment
Greater Texas Federal Credit Union loans
- Borrow from $1,000 to $50,000
- 10-year repayment term
- Immediate, interest-only, or deferred repayment
- No origination fee
- Variable or fixed interest rates
You also can borrow from Aggieland Credit Union, a branch of Greater Texas Federal Credit Union. It offers loans with similar terms.
Baptist Credit Union loans
- Borrow from $1,000 to $25,000
- 10-year repayment term
- Immediate or interest-only repayment
- No origination fee
These lenders, along with others, also offer student loan refinancing. Refinancing could help you meet your debt payoff goals by lowering your interest rate or changing your repayment term.
Whether you’re looking to take out a loan or refinance loans you already have, shopping around with multiple lenders is a smart move. You can compare offers and find the lowest interest rate to reduce your long-term borrowing costs.
Federal options for Texas student loans
Federal student loans are available to students who are enrolled at least half time. In most cases, you must be working toward a degree or certificate to qualify. Further, your school must participate in the Direct Loan Program.
Federal loans, with the exception of PLUS Loans, don’t require a credit check or cosigner. They tend to come with the lowest interest rates, and they have a variety of borrower protections, including income-driven repayment (IDR) plans and forbearance in the case of financial hardship.
To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen or qualifying resident enrolled in an approved school. You also must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After submitting the FAFSA, you could qualify for one of the three loan types below.
Direct Subsidized Loans or Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans are granted to students. Undergraduate students can qualify for both subsidized and unsubsidized loans, which come with a fixed interest rate of 4.45%. Graduate students can qualify for only unsubsidized loans with a 6.00% interest rate. These loans have a 1.066% origination fee as of Oct. 1, 2017.
Students with financial need can get subsidized loans, which don’t accrue interest while you’re in school. Subsidized loans, however, come with relatively low borrowing limits, so they might not cover your full tuition bill.
If you have more costs to cover, you could fill the gap with unsubsidized loans. Anyone eligible for federal financial aid can get unsubsidized loans, which accrue interest from the date of disbursement.
You can defer payments on Direct Loans for six months after graduation. After this point, your loans are automatically put on the standard 10-year repayment plan. Alternatively, you can extend your repayment term with an IDR plan.
Parent PLUS Loans
Parent PLUS Loans are granted to parents or guardians of students who need additional funding to pay for school. They have a 7.00% interest rate and 4.264% origination fee as of Oct. 1, 2017.
Parents don’t need especially strong credit to qualify, but they can’t have an adverse credit history. When it comes to repayment, there aren’t as many options for Parent PLUS Loans as there are for Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Make sure to learn about the available repayment plans before borrowing.
Direct Consolidation Loans
If you’re looking to simplify your student loan situation, you could apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan. This federal loan option combines multiple loans into one, so it could be easier to keep track of your monthly dues.
Unlike refinancing, taking out a Direct Consolidation Loan can stick you with a higher interest rate. Your new rate will be the weighted average of your previous interest rates rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percent. So even though consolidating could simplify your monthly bills, you might see your interest payments go up.
Explore your options for Texas student loans
Whether you’re looking to cover tuition charges or refinance your Texas student loans, you have a variety of options as a borrower.
THECB offers low-interest student loans to Texas residents. Plus, HESC partners with credit unions to help you finance your education.
However, Texas grants and scholarships should be your first stop for funding. After that, consider federal student loans. Unless you or your cosigner has stellar credit, it can be hard beating the low rates on Direct Loans.
Whatever you choose, make sure to research your options and compare terms. That way, you can save yourself serious money on education costs.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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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 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% 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
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.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.57% – 6.98%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.80% – 6.22%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.57% – 8.17%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|