Vermont Student Loans: Debt Stats, Repayment Programs and Refinancing Loans

 August 7, 2021
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Vermont borrowers have an average balance of $35,276 in federal and private student loans, 4% below the national average of $36,689.

Those going to school in the Green Mountain State can tap into incentives like the Catamount Commitment, which covers tuition and fees — in full — for University of Vermont students receiving federal Pell grants.

While both need- and merit-based programs are available, many students lean on federal and private loans to cover the cost of going to college. Here’s a look at Vermont student loans and repayment options.

Vermont student loans: Borrowers owe average of $35,276 in federal, private debt

College students in Vermont borrow, on average, $35,276 in federal and private loan debt.

Compared to residents in nearby states, Vermonters borrow more than those in New Hampshire ($32,454), Massachusetts ($31,821) and Maine ($31,801) but slightly less than those in New York ($35,638).

While the total average debt per borrower in Vermont is higher than in some nearby states, the number of borrowers and total debt is less. In neighboring New Hampshire, about 200,000 borrowers owe $7.5 billion in student loan debt, compared with about 100,000 borrowers and $3.2 billion in student loan debt in Vermont.

Nationwide, borrowers in the District of Columbia carry the heftiest federal and private student loan burden at $52,049. Here’s a closer look across the U.S.:

3 things to know about going to college in Vermont

For being a small state in both size and population, Vermont has several ways to help students cover the cost of higher education:

  • Need-based grants: Vermont offers three grants for students with financial need: the Vermont Incentive Grant for full-time enrollees, the Vermont Part-Time Grant for part-timers and the Advancement Grant for shorter, non-degree programs.
  • Private loan relief: While many federal student loan payments are paused through Jan. 31, 2022, the same relief isn’t available across the board for private loans. However, those with private loans through the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) who were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic may be able to suspend their payments. Contact VSAC directly to see available options.
  • Request for additional aid: Borrowers facing high medical expenses, decreased income, increased family size or COVID-19-related issues can contact VSAC to appeal their state grant award.

Loan repayment programs for Vermont residents

If you live — or are thinking about living — in Vermont, here are some of the available student loan repayment programs:

Educational Loan Repayment for Health Care Professionals

The state’s Educational Loan Repayment for Health Care Professionals program is available for:

  • Physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants
  • Nurses
  • Dentists

Details about the individual programs vary.

Physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants

Annual awards provide up to $40,000 in loan forgiveness to eligible Vermont residents — up to $20,000 from state and federal funding that the employer or community must match. Eligible recipients include primary care physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and psychiatrists, among other types of health care professionals, practicing in health care shortage areas. Recipients will need to work at least part time and commit to a service contract — typically for one to two years.

Nurses

Eligible licensed practical nurses or registered nurses who live and practice in the state may receive up to $12,000 annually — up to $6,000 from state funds and another $6,000 in potential matching funds, though the latter is not required as with the physician program. Similar to that previous program, though, recipients must work at least part time in a health care shortage area. They are also required to commit to a service contract (generally one year).

Dentists

Dentists can receive the same award amount as physicians — up to $40,000, with matches being required. The service contract is the same, too — typically one to two years — requiring at least part-time work in a health care shortage area. Dentists are required to care for Medicaid patients.

Notably, nonresidents can apply but must move to the state before funds are disbursed.

Vermont Bar Foundation Loan Repayment Assistance Program (VBF-LRAP)

Licensed attorneys who work for Vermont nonprofits and serve low-income people are eligible for the VBF-LRAP. Program participants could receive up to $5,000 a year.

To qualify, recipients must be employed either part time or full time, and their annual salary can’t be greater than $60,000. All employment, income and other requirements must be met for the loan amount to be discharged at the end of the annual year award.

Vermont federal student loan borrowers younger than 25 owe more than national average — plus a look at payment status

How to refinance Vermont student loans

Among Vermont borrowers, 5.7% owe $100,000 or more in federal student loans — and that doesn’t account for those who have private loans. For borrowers shouldering a high student debt load, refinancing could be advantageous.

Borrowers in Vermont can refinance their student loans through a credit union, bank or online lender. Those curious about refinancing their student loans will need to do some homework, research their options, compare rates and terms, decide on a lender and apply.

CHECK IT OUT: Student Loan Repayment Calculator

When you refinance your private and/or federal student loans into one private loan, you might be able to lower your interest rate. Plus, you may have the opportunity to change your repayment terms to save on interest or lower your monthly payment.

Still, while there are pros to refinancing student loans, there are also downsides to consider. For instance, you’ll give up perks and protections that come with federal loans, including:

  • Federal forgiveness programs
  • Federal repayment options
  • Federal forbearance and deferment

While some private lenders offer forbearance and deferment options, they typically differ from what’s offered at the federal level.

Further, you’ll give up any temporary relief under the CARES ACT, including suspended payments and not collecting on defaulted loans.

Sources

  • U.S. Department of Education data as of June 30, 2020
  • Anonymized My LendingTree June 2020 credit reports
  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax as of June 2020
  • mappingstudentdebt.org

Because the latter data is from 2015, researchers estimated the increase in student loan debt per borrower in the state using statewide data from anonymized credit reports.

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