Good news from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education! Do you or your family members struggle to make payments on your loans from college? Worried about being able to make payments after you graduate from a MnSCU community or technical college? The new Minnesota SELF Refi program might be able to help! SELF Refi is a state-sponsored loan refinancing program available to Minnesotans that have completed a postsecondary course of study and meet relevant credit criteria.
Refinancing allows you to take the loans you currently have and potentially obtain a lower interest rate – saving you money on interest rates in the long term. SELF Refi offers 5, 10, and 15-year repayment windows and both fixed and variable interest rates. Fixed interest rates will stay the same throughout your entire repayment window but are a bit higher; variable interest rates are lower but fluctuate in response to market conditions – meaning you could be required to pay a higher interest rate in the future. Depending on the loans you have, SELF Refi may be able to offer you a lower interest rate than what you’re currently paying. Check out this handy repayment calculator to see if refinancing through this program makes sense for you.
Don’t Let Debt Keep You Down
We hear from students every day about how scared they are about the prospect of paying back their student loans. The average associate degree graduate in Minnesota leaves school with more than $20,000 debt – equaling a $200 per month payment for 10 years. For many people already struggling to make ends meet, $200 per month is too much to ask. Debt is scary, but know that you have options. The federal government and other loan programs often offer income-based repayment options. If you or your family are having trouble making payments or are already in default, check out this helpful information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There are programs that can help you if you get into default – seeking help early can avoid many headaches down the road.
MSCSA knows how hard loans make the lives of students in Minnesota. That’s why we’re fighting for debt-free community college. To learn more about our campaign, visit the Renew Our Promise website.
Association Update 01-25-16
Ten students from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities have been selected to receive the 100% American Scholarship with $500 to be used for tuition, fees, and books during the 2016 spring semester, totaling $5,000 in scholarships.
Congratulations go to the following award recipients:
This award, through the generosity of Dr. Mark Welter, provided an insight to demonstrate that “all people – all creeds, all cultures, all colors, all countries have been borrowers and depositors at the world bank of knowledge.” The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities students who applied responded to the four essay questions reflecting this.
If you would like to apply for a Minnesota State College Student Association scholarship, please visit www.mscsa.org/about-mscsa/scholarship or if you would like to contribute to the Minnesota State College Student Association scholarship fund, please contact MSCSA Development Assistant Joyce Petsch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-203-9464.
Exciting news, MSCSA! Minnesotans can now apply for the MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program. The program, passed by the legislature last year, will fund approximately 1,200 scholarships for MnSCU two-year college students enrolled in high-demand employment areas. Eligible students will receive funding for any costs not covered by other federal and state aid programs – allowing students to graduate from college debt free! In addition, recipients of the grant will receive mentoring to help them complete their program and make concrete steps towards graduating from college.
In order to qualify for the grant, students must:
In addition, students must be Minnesota residents and have an adjusted gross income of less than $90,000. Full application requirements are available from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. There is no separate application to apply to this grant – students need only submit their FAFSA forms and their eligibility will be determined from that information.
Although current college students are ineligible for this aid, the grant program is an excellent opportunity for MSCSA members to reach out to their friends, families, and communities to spread the word about the value of community college and the chance to graduate from college debt-free. Debt-free community college is a priority for MSCSA. Minnesota has the third highest college costs in the country with the average Associate Degree student graduating with nearly $20,000 in debt. This debt load means that students will be paying more than $200 a month for at least ten years. With a median starting salary of approximately $38,000 before taxes, associate degree graduates are burdened with more than $2,400 a year in loan repayment expectations.
This grant program provides the opportunity for students to avoid the debt burden that has been placed on MnSCU community college students for far too long. By encouraging your friends and family to apply to college and this grant program, Minnesotans can demonstrate to legislators the value and demand for debt-free community college. For more information on the program and for tools on how you can recruit students in your community, click here for MSCSA’s Minnesota Debt-Free Pilot Program Toolkit for Community Advocacy.
Association Update 11-23-15