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College Talk Blog

College Costs

Student Loan Interest Rates Drop for 2020-21

Federal student loan interest rates have dropped significantly for 2020-21. Students will pay 2.75% compared to 5.05% in 2019-20. Parent loan interest has dropped to 5.3% from 7.6% in 2019-20. Graduate student borrowers will be charged 4.3% compared to 6.6% in 2019-20.

Both dependent and independent students are eligible to borrow. Students can be full or part time and must carry a half-time load, which is six credits. 

The federal student loan program helps individuals and families fill in the gap between what college costs and any other grants or scholarships the student may have been offered.

Caviar College Dreams on a Shoestring Budget

Parents who would not go to a Tesla dealer and say they want a Tesla for free think nothing of saying something similar when it comes to colleges. The bottom line about colleges is that nothing is free. Whenever you hear about a student who got a "Free Ride" to a college, there was a huge payment beforehand. That student and family had huge sweat equity and likely significant costs getting the student to the point that they could earn a "free ride" to college later.

The next time you hear about a free ride, realize it came after 12 or more years of hard work by the student and at least as many years work on the part of the parent mentoring the student and paying for enrichment experiences through their own sweat equity and time.

A Gift for Fathers

When we look at most consumer products, we look at prices very early in our deliberation process. Both adults and teens do this. However, when looking at colleges, our emotions over-ride our good sense. Colleges, like cars and other products, have different levels of prestige, social status, building attractiveness and extra options like upscale living options, fancy fitness centers and other things that have nothing to do with academic quality.

Because we equate college quality and career success, we often throw caution out the window when considering colleges.

Student Loan Interest Rates Rise for Students and Parents

If you have a student headed to college this fall, you may want to check with your bank or credit union to see if they can beat federal student loan interest rates and benefits. The parent loan interest rate for 2017-18 is rising to 7% from 6.31% in 2016-17 and the student loan interest rate for 2017-18 is rising to 4.45% from the 3.76% charged in 2016-17.

While the interest rate for students is still reasonable, I noticed that some parents were beginning to skip the parent PLUS loan in favor of loans from their banks and credit unions two years ago.

Saving Money on College

I talk to families everyday about college and managing college cost. It is always a surprise to them that the best way to contain cost is to put that in the plan first-before looking at any colleges. Unfortunately, many select a college and then think about how to minimize costs. To me, that is like going to the Mercedes dealer new car lot first and then worrying about how to pay for the car. Car buyers know to look at costs first and look for deals. College buyers should do the same.

There are college deals to be had...but you have to be willing to compromise. Just as you would if you were shopping for a car. Where are the deals? The deals in colleges are like the deals in cars. What college wants your kid really bad? That's a deal college for you. There are many other deals out there in higher education. Look for them first, then start thinking about where to apply. Don't do college financing backward; selecting a college and then looking for a deal.