At Clark University, we realize that preferences and needs for additional resources for financing your education are as individual as each student. We strongly encourage families to consider all the ways to pay for an education before applying for any private alternative loan. Federal loans usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and have more flexible repayment options than most private loans. Below are some suggestions you can review to determine what fits your personal finacial situtation.
Monthly Payment Plan
The best way to limit debt is to consider the Interest-Free Monthly Payment Option that is offered to Clark families through Tuition Management Systems. You should either call TMS at 888-216-4258 or view their website to obtain more information. On average, approximately 750-800 of our families use the payment plan during the academic year. If the payment plan is not a viable option for you, consider financing your balance by applying for a Federal Direct PLUS loan or some other type of private educational loan program. We recommend that you go to their website and utilize the Borrow Smart tool, which encourages a combination strategy: using a combination of resources to limit debt while still keeping your monthly payments affordable.
The William D. Ford Direct PLUS Loan
The Federal Direct PLUS Loan is a low interest rate loan which allows a parent of a dependent undergraduate student to borrow funds for educational expenses. The interest rate for the Federal Direct PLUS Loan for 2016-2017 is 6.31% This rate is fixed for any loans disbursed from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. A new rate is set each academic year with the interest rate capped at 10.5%. Borrowers do not need to select a specific lender through the Direct PLUS Loan Program since the lender is the U.S. Department of Education. A parent borrower must pass a PLUS Loan credit check and must not have adverse credit history. For an applicant who is unable to meet the credit criteria, there may be an option to appeal the decision or the applicant may be able to borrow with a credit worthy endorser. There is a 4.276% origination fee associated with this loan resulting in a net disbursement of 4.276% less than the actual amount borrowed. For additional information on the Federal Direct PLUS Loan, please review Federal Direct PLUS Loan Application and information sheets.
To apply for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan, print the Clark University PLUS Loan Application. Once completed, this request form must be either mailed or faxed directly to the Office of Financial Assistance. If you have not completed the FAFSA to apply for federal student aid, you must do so before Clark University will process your request for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan.Requests for a Federal Direct PLUS Loan are processed over the summer for the upcoming academic year. Two hundred and sixty-two Direct PLUS Loans were approved during the past academic year. The average PLUS Loan for 2014-2015 was $8,970.
Private Educational Loan Programs
Private educational loan programs are another option that may meet the financing needs of some of our families. The borrower is either a credit-worthy student borrower and/or a co-borrower. Both the interest rates and the fees may vary from program to program, often based on the borrower’s credit history and are not always fixed rates. The maximum loan amount that can be borrowed each year is up to the total cost of attendance minus financial aid awarded to the student. Clark University does an annual review of alternative loan providers and their products specifically reviewing interest rates, repayment options, borrower benefits, and customer service. Based on our review, we provide a loan comparison chart describing the components of each program we have reviewed. However, we encourage our families to do their own research to find a product that best meets their needs. All borrowers have the option to select a private educational loan from any lender or agency they choose. Clark University will process any private loan application submitted to the University. Additionally, student borrowers should consider utilizing their full eligibility through federal student loan programs before borrowing a private educational loan.
The MEFA Undergraduate Loan is offered through the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority. MEFA is a non-profit self-financing state authority that serves students and families in Massachusetts and families of out-of-state students pursuing higher education in Massachusetts. The MEFA Undergraduate Loan is a private educational family loan offered at a fixed interest rate. The fixed rate will vary based on the repayment option you select. The MEFA Undergraduate Loan requires a credit-worthy borrower and all applicants must be either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. Applicants may borrow up to the cost of attendance minus any financial aid the student will receive.
The average MEFA loan borrowed for 2014-2015 was $13,725.
For more information about the MEFA Undergraduate Loan, you should click here or call MEFA at 1-800-449-6332.
The Citizens Bank Student Loan is a school certified private loan option for undergraduate and graduate students. Students can select either an immediate, interest only, or deferred payment option and may borrow up to the cost of education less any financial aid awarded to the student. This is a no fee private loan program.
The University has been processing private educational loans through Citizens Bank for the past ten years. Clark University borrowers utilizing this loan program had a 58% approval rating for the 2014-2015 year. The average loan borrowed this past year was $12,850.
For more information on the Citizen's Bank Student Loan, you should click here or call 1-800-708-6684.
The Smart Option Student Loan (funded by Sallie Mae) can be a solution for students who still need funds after they have maximized their eligibility through the federal student loan programs. With this loan, the student can borrow up to the full cost of education less any other financial aid the student has received. The Smart Option Student Loan offers a deferred repayment option, interest only, and an immediate repayment option, offering a fixed or variable interest rate. This is a no fee private loan program.
Private loan borrowers at the University have been utilizing Sallie Mae loans for the past twenty years. Clark University borrowers utilizing this loan program had a 55% approval rating with a co-signer for the 2014-2015 year. The average Smart Loan borrowed was $13,600.
For more information on the Smart Option Student Loan, you should click here or call 1-877-279-7172.
The best way to decide what option meets your needs is to compare the terms of each loan program. To assist you, we have created a loan comparison chart (PDF) which briefly describes the components of each program.