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Student Loans

The average student in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt, according to Forbes. SWOSU’s average undergraduate student debt for graduates during the 2017-18 year was $14,363.

Loans Can Be Good Things & Bad Things

Loans are good because they are a type of financial aid available to help you meet your educational expenses so you can graduate as soon as possible. Federal educational loans are unique. You can borrow up to set limits with no cosigner, no collateral and no credit check, and the application process is simple and straightforward.

Loans are bad because without realizing it, a student can get thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars in debt before graduating. That can make starting a career hard and far less rewarding. Further, you cannot have these loans canceled if you don’t complete your degree or because you’re having financial difficulties. So, if you're looking at borrowing, walk lightly. Borrow only what you really need to get through school. Then all that great money you're planning on making years from now will belong to you instead of the bank!

There are several types of loans available. Make sure you are familiar with the different types and terms before you commit.

Common Loan Questions

The Direct Stafford Loan is funded by the federal government. Interest rates are low and repayment of principle typically isn't required until six months after a student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment. Generally, they are among the best student loans available for paying educational costs.

With the Subsidized Stafford, the interest is paid by the government while you are in school. You are responsible for the interest on the Unsubsidized Stafford. You have the option of paying the interest while enrolled or deferring it until after you leave school, at which time it will be added to the principle of the loan.

It's likely I'll have to borrow every year to pay for my college expenses.

Planning ahead is essential to managing debt. If you plan to borrow each year you are in school, estimate the total amount you will borrow. Then use a sample loan repayment table to calculate how much you will have to pay each month. To decide how much to borrow, as a guide you can use the criteria lenders use when they consider an applicant's ability to repay. They expect that the total monthly payment for all debts should not exceed 8 percent of your gross monthly salary. So, check on your major as to the average starting salaries seen by recent graduates, estimate what living expenses will be like for you and the difference should be a good estimate of maximum borrowing you will want to stay below.

A change in career goals, the loss of a job, or other unexpected changes in your situation could make repaying your loan more difficult than you expected. In some cases, and at the lender's option, you may be permitted to temporarily stop making your payments, or your lender may accept smaller payment than scheduled. This is called a forbearance. In addition, for some loans, you may defer repayments temporarily which may help. The promissory note for each loan you borrow outlines the specific terms under which you may be granted a deferment.

Not paying back your student loan can have serious consequences. If you become 270 days behind on your payments and go into default your lender can require you to repay the entire amount immediately, including all interest plus collection and late payment charges. The lender can sue you and can ask the federal government for help in collecting from you. The Internal Revenue Service may withhold your income tax refund and apply it toward your loan. You cannot get any additional federal student aid from any school in the nation until you make satisfactory arrangements to repay your loan. Also, the lender may notify credit bureaus of your default. This may affect your credit rating which will make it difficult to obtain credit cards, home and/or car loans. Learn more about Managing Repayment.

If I borrow from more than one loan program, I may have to pay several different lenders at the same time.

If you've borrowed from more than one type of loan program, you may be able to consolidate some of the loans and use one payment plan to repay the loans. In general, federal loans may be consolidated into one new loan at an interest rate of the weighted average of the original interest rates of the loans being consolidated. The length of the extension depends on the total amount of the loans consolidated. PLUS Loans are not eligible for consolidation.

Since approval of some non-need-based student loans and most parent loans is based upon credit history, you may want to order a credit report if you will need these loans to finance part of your education. Check the report closely for accuracy and resolve any erroneous information prior to applying for educational loans.

The following agencies can provide you with a credit report:
Equifax Credit Information Services: 800.685.1111
Experian: .888.397.3742
Trans Union Corporation: 770.396.7011

Student Debt at SWOSU

We often see and hear reports of the crisis related to student debt. For many college students, this is a very real and important issue. Fortunately, SWOSU is extremely competitive when it comes to students’ costs when comparing us with our peer institutions.

Although individual situations will vary, it is important to point out that the statistics related to SWOSU show a much different story from the national numbers. Currently, at SWOSU, 55 percent of our undergraduate students have NO DEBT. For those students who do graduate with debt and an undergraduate degree, that amount averages $14,363 per person.

National statistics show that in 2015, 68 percent of students who graduated from a public or private non-profit institution had student loan debt. In 2017, the national average debt each student carried was $28,650.  Unfortunately, these national numbers have increased since that time.

If you have previous student loans, you may access your individual loan borrowing history at NSLDS Student Access.

Entrance/Exit Counseling

Borrowing student loans is serious business. Although loans can be great in helping you attend college, these legal obligations can also become quite a burden during repayment. We don't want you to borrow loans without understanding the responsibility. Neither does the federal government who requires Entrance Counseling be completed before you can receive any loans.

Read more about Entrance/Exit Counseling.

Rights & Responsibilities

As the borrower of a student loan, you have the right to:

  • Receive a loan disclosure statement with your loan funds that lists your interest rate, estimated total interest costs, and total indebtedness.
  • Receive a repayment schedule before your payment is due.
  • Be notified in writing if your loan is sold or transferred and the address to which you send your payments changes and be given the name, address and phone number of the new holder.
  • Request a deferment or forbearance if you have difficulty making payments.

At the same time, you have the duty to

  • Adhere to the responsibilities described on your student loan promissory note once you've signed it and endorsed your check or accepted your EFT funds. You have made a legal agreement to live up to these responsibilities.
  • Also, you must inform the holder of your loan if you:
    • Change your name, address or phone number
    • Transfer to another school
    • Go on leave of absence,
    • Withdraw from school
    • Change your graduation date.
  • Learn More about Loans.
Repay your loan!