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Planning on going to school in Virginia? You’re probably going to graduate with student loans, as more than half the state’s grads do.
In fact, the Institute for College Access and Success estimated 56% of Class of 2016 grads have debt when they leave school. The average debt for graduates of Virginia colleges is $29,296.
Going to school in Virginia may be expensive. You should know about all your options for paying tuition and other expenses, such as your cost of living.
Continue reading to learn more about how you can obtain Virginia student loans or refinance and consolidate your existing education debt.
Federal student loans
Federal student loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as parents. Options for these federal loans include:
- Direct Subsidized Loans: These are need-based loans available to undergrads. The government covers interest charges while you’re in school, during your grace period, and during any periods of deferment.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Undergraduates and graduate students are eligible for Direct Unsubsidized Loans, regardless of financial need. You’ll pay interest while loans are deferred, including when you’re in school.
- Direct PLUS Loans: Graduate students and parents can qualify for PLUS Loans, but you can’t have adverse credit. Interest isn’t subsidized on these loans.
Federal loans provide benefits that may be unavailable on private loans. For example, your federal debt may be forgiven through Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and you can cap monthly payments as a percentage of your discretionary income using income-driven repayment.
Because federal loans offer these advantages, you should consider them before turning to private debt. But don’t forget to apply for grants and scholarships. These funds don’t need to be repaid.
You can apply for federal loan funding by completing the annual Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA.
Private student loans
If you have a funding gap after applying for federal student loans and scholarships and grants, you could consider private loans.
Many different lenders provide funding for undergraduate programs and for graduate degrees. You can check out our top private student loan lenders to find banks, credit unions, and online lenders that offer funds for school.
While private loans don’t offer all the perks of federal loans, you can benefit from lenders that provide a discount for automatic payments and that allow you to temporarily pause payments in the event of job loss or other financial hardship. You may also qualify for a lower interest rate.
There’s more variation in rates and terms for private student loans than for federal student loans, though. Shop lenders and ask:
- What interest rate you’ll be charged
- How long you’ll have to repay the loan
- When you’ll enter loan repayment
Depending on your income and credit score, you may need a cosigner to qualify for a private loan. If you do, ask lenders whether they offer cosigner release.
Virginia student loans
Students attending school in Virginia may obtain federal or private student loans to fund their education. But individual colleges may also offer financing options.
For example, Virginia Tech offers short-term loans of up to $600 for students who experience a pressing financial need. Loans must be repaid within the academic term in which the money is borrowed.
The best way to find out about student loans specific to your school is to speak with its financial aid office. It can help you explore financing solutions for school.
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia also makes resources available for local students who need help exploring options for funding their education. You can discover details about federal and state financing, private loan programs, and financial aid through Virginia institutions.
Student loan refinancing
If you take out federal or private student loans, there may come a time when it makes sense to refinance your debt. Refinancing allows you to pay off your existing debt with a new loan that has better terms, such as a lower interest rate.
While the federal government doesn’t offer loan refinancing, it does offer a Direct Consolidation Loan. This type of loan allows you to combine eligible federal student loans into one big loan with a single monthly payment.
This can make repayment easier to manage. A Direct Consolidation Loan could also make you eligible for certain repayment plans.
But you won’t save money with a Direct Consolidation Loan. Your interest rate will be the weighted average of the loans you consolidate, rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percent.
If your goal is to reduce your interest rate, refinancing with a private lender could be a smart approach. Many great lenders offer loan refinancing, so shop to compare rates and terms to find the right loan for you.
Paying for school with Virginia student loans
It’s important to look for scholarships and grants before securing student loans to keep your debt as low as possible. You could nab a lot of free money for college. To start your search, consider this complete guide to state grants.
Try to max out free funding first, then find the most affordable loans possible.
By understanding your loan options and comparing different lenders carefully, you can find the right types of Virginia student loans and graduate with low debt payments that won’t be a burden in your post-grad life.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
|2.57% – 5.87%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.80% – 6.38%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 7.52%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 7.99%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.57% – 6.65%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.17%||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|