Refinancing with Earnest
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Whether you’re a Mountaineer or a member of the Thundering Herd, or whether you attend one of West Virginia’s 37 colleges, chances are you’ll leave school with student debt.
In fact, more West Virginians graduate from college with student debt than residents of any other U.S. state, according to The Institute for College Access & Success. That said, the average debt for 2016 graduates of a four-year college in the Mountain State was $27,708, which is roughly $12,000 less than the latest national average student loan balance.
Ideally, you’d avoid West Virginia student loans altogether. But if you can’t, it’s important to know where to get the lowest rates and how to limit the amount you need to borrow.
West Virginia student loans
West Virginia students can apply for federal and private student loans to help pay for college costs. And depending on your school, you might also have other loan options.
Federal student loans
Whether you’re an undergraduate student, a graduate or professional student, or a parent trying to help your child, the U.S. Department of Education offers a few federal loan options. These loans offer special benefits and protections that you generally can’t get anywhere else, including income-driven repayment (IDR) plans and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Here are the highlights of what’s available as of May 14, 2018. For the latest information, contact the Federal Student Aid office.
|Loan type||Designed for||Requires a credit check?||Interest rates||Loan fee|
|Direct Subsidized Loans||Undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need||No||4.45%||1.066%|
|Direct Unsubsidized Loans||Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students||No||4.45% for undergraduates, 6.00% for graduate and professional students||1.066%|
|Direct PLUS Loans||Graduate and professional students, and parents of undergraduate students||Yes||7.00%||4.264%|
Private student loans
If federal loans aren’t enough to cover your education costs, consider private student loans. The main drawback is that private student loan companies require a credit check. If you’re new to credit or your credit score is poor, consider finding a cosigner to boost your approval odds. In fact, even if you can get approved on your own, a cosigner with a good credit history could help you score a lower interest rate.
Private student loans also typically don’t offer access to IDR plans or student loan forgiveness programs. But many of the best private student loan companies come with competitive interest rates. Here are a few examples:
|Student loan company||Variable interest rates||Fixed interest rates||Origination fees|
|LendKey||As low as 4.72%||As low as 5.36%||None|
|Citizens Bank||4.04% – 12.01%||5.25% – 12.19%||None|
|College Ave||3.69% – 10.94%||3.69% – 12.07%||None|
Research these options and compare them with other private student loans to find the right loan for your needs.
West Virginia-specific student loans
Some loans are available only for students in the state.
West Virginia University, for example, offers the Alex & Betty Schoenbaum Teacher Preparation Scholarship/Loan. Designed for students who plan to work in education, it’s essentially a scholarship with one stipulation: Complete the degree for which you received the loan. Otherwise, you’ll need to start making payments after you leave school.
The university also offers the West Virginia Medical Student Loan, which is a low-interest, subsidized loan for students in its Health Sciences Center. There are no loan fees and the interest rate will be the current rate for federal Stafford loans when you start making payments.
Most student loans are intended to be used for tuition and supplies. But Marshall University offers a student emergency loan. If you experience an unforeseen financial emergency, you can borrow up to $250 per semester. You’ll need to contact the bursar’s office for information about interest rates and fees.
These are a few examples, but your school might have specialized loans of its own. Check with its financial aid office to see your options.
Refinancing West Virginia student loans
If you’re no longer in school and have started making payments on your student loans, you might be feeling overwhelmed. The good news is that you might be able to get a lower interest rate on your West Virginia student loans by refinancing them.
For the most part, student loan refinancing companies offer variable and fixed interest rates. If you qualify, you might get a variable interest rate that’s lower than the fixed rates offered by the Department of Education.
The lenders also have various repayment terms and other features that might offer extra flexibility as you pay down your debt. But as with private in-school student loans, you’ll undergo a credit check when you apply. And with federal loans, you might not want to refinance the debt if you want to hold on to its benefits such as IDR plans and student loan forgiveness programs.
Here’s a summary of three of the top student loan refinancing companies:
|Student loan company||Variable interest rates||Fixed interest rates||Minimum loan balance|
|CommonBond||2.48% – 6.25%||3.20% – 6.25%||$5,000|
|Earnest||2.47% – 5.87%||3.89% – 6.32%||$5,000|
|SoFi||2.57% – 6.98%||3.90% – 8.18%||$5,000|
To improve your chances of getting a lower interest rate, compare several student loan refinancing companies and look at rates, repayment terms, and other features that fit your needs.
Ways to limit your West Virginia student loans
Even if you leave college with student loan debt that’s lower than the state average, it can be stressful to make those payments along with all of your other financial obligations. If you haven’t left college yet, start taking steps now to reduce your dependence on student loans. Here are a few things you can do:
- Choose an inexpensive college. State colleges typically are less expensive than private universities. A well-known university name might look great on your resumé, but many colleges offer a quality education and affordable tuition.
- Apply for scholarships. There are many organizations and companies that offer scholarships. Start researching them and apply for any you’re eligible for. Earning even one scholarship could save you money down the road because you won’t have to borrow that money. As you do this, don’t forget about the Student Loan Hero $5K Scholarship.
- Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Department of Education uses the FAFSA form to decide how much financial aid you need in college. If your financial need is high enough, you could qualify for a Pell Grant, which you don’t have to repay.
- Get a job. Student loans are designed to pay your tuition and other education-related costs, but not living expenses. If you can get at least a part-time job, you won’t have to worry about how to manage your day-to-day costs.
Responsible student loan use is wise
The best way to reduce the amount you’ll owe in student loans and the interest you’ll pay is to shop around. As you do the research and apply for the loans with the best interest rates, you could save hundreds of dollars over the life of your loans.
In addition, try to limit your dependence on student loans while you’re still in school. This will make it easier when you start your career, and you’ll have more financial flexibility to set and work toward other financial goals that are important to you.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
|1 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
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.
2 Important Disclosures for Discover.
3 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB) or Turnstile Capital Management, LLC (TCM), which are not affiliated entities. Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. All loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Other terms and conditions apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of TCM and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
* 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.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for PNC.
PNC Bank is one of the nation’s largest education loan providers. For over 40 years, PNC has been committed to helping students and their families make possible the adventure of college.
6 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
9 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.69% – 10.94%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CollegeAve|
|3.82% – 12.82%3||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Ascent|
|4.34% – 12.99%2||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Discover|
|4.12% – 10.98%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SallieMae|
|5.03% – 11.23%5||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit PNC|
|3.88% – 12.88%6||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SunTrust|
|4.72% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit LendKey|
|3.72% – 9.68%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CommonBond|
|4.04% – 12.01%9||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit Citizens|