Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and relief efforts from the government, student loan lenders and others. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.
* * *
Attending college in Maine can get pricey pretty fast. According to The Institute for College Access & Success, the state’s Class of 2018 borrowers left school with the country’s eighth-highest average student debt ($32,676).
Whether you need help paying for college without going deep into debt, have a goal to pay off student loans faster or are struggling to make payments on the Maine student loans you already have, these resources can help.
For current students: How to get Maine student loans
For borrowers no longer in school: How to refinance Maine student loans
How to get Maine student loans
As you’re working on your plan to pay for college, start with funds that don’t require you to borrow. Grants and scholarships are smart sources of money for college, and college savings should be also drawn on before resorting to Maine student loans.
Still, over half of the state’s 2018 college graduates (61%) left school with student debt, and you might find yourself needing to borrow at some point, too.
|Maine student loans: Class of 2018|
|Average debt at graduation||$32,676|
|Percent of students that graduate with debt||61%|
|National ranking for amount of debt||8|
|Source: The Institute for College Access & Success|
The three main borrowing options are:
1. Maine student loans
2. Federal student loans in Maine
3. Private student loans in Maine
Which Maine student loans you choose can have a big impact on your debt costs and repayment options, so choose wisely. Here’s an overview of the specific Maine student loans available in each category.
Maine student loans
Maine is one state that offers several of its own student loan options. These loans can not only pay for college, but they can also put borrowers ahead in repayment — that’s thanks to benefits like lower student loan rates, no-interest loans and even student loan forgiveness or repayment assistance.
These loans are offered through the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), and they require students to submit both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and a separate application specific to the loan.
These Maine student loans could provide a smart way to get the college funds you need while paying less. Here’s an overview, with the rates and terms as of the 2020-2021 school year:
|The Maine Loan||Undergraduate and graduate students who are Maine residents and meet credit and income requirements||● Loan limits are $1,000 up to the full cost of attendance (minus other aid), with no annual or aggregate loan limits
● The Maine Loan’s fixed interest rates range from 4.49% to 5.99%, depending on the selected repayment plan (can be lowered with 0.25% interest rate reduction for autopay)
|The Maine Medical Loan||Maine residents and out-of-state medical students who meet credit requirements||● Loan amounts of $1,000 up to the full cost of attendance (minus other aid), with no annual or aggregate loan limits
● Interest rates ranging from 4.49% to 5.99%, depending on the selected repayment plan (can be lowered with 0.25% interest rate reduction for autopay)
● Option to defer while in school and up to 4 years during residency or internship
|Educators for Maine Program||Maine students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in child care and education||● Borrowers can qualify for forgiveness with completion of eligible work at a Maine child care center or school
● Requirements for these merit-based loans include submitting an essay, full-time enrollment (for undergraduates) and a GPA of 3.0 or higher
● Provides loans of $2,000 to $4,000 a year, with a fixed interest rate of 5%
|Maine Dental Education Loan Program||Maine residents pursuing a career in dentistry||● Eligible for forgiveness through full-time primary dental care in underserved areas of Maine
● Loan funds up to $25,000 a year (up to $100,000 total)
|Maine Health Professions Loan Program||Maine residents pursuing medical, dental or veterinary education||● Need-based loans
● Loan amounts up to $25,000 a year (limited to $100,000 total)
● Zero interest in repayment when working 20 hours or more in underserved areas of Maine (otherwise, interest rates of 3% to 8% will apply)
|The Maine Medical Education Foundation Loan||Medical students who are Maine residents||● Amounts from $2,000 up to the full cost of education
● No interest accrued while in school (at least half-time enrollment)
● Fixed rates of 1% to 5% during residency (depending on year), with a 5% interest rate in repayment
● 10-year loan terms with the option to defer for up to five years post-graduation
|Maine Veterinary Medicine Loan Program||Maine residents pursuing a veterinary career||● Need-based loans
● Eligible for forgiveness with qualifying work in an area of Maine with a high need for veterinary medicine
● Without forgiveness, the student loan interest rate is 5% with a 10-year repayment period
● Loan amounts of up to $25,000 a year (limited at $100,000 over four years)
Federal student loans in Maine
Filing your FAFSA is important for Maine student loans, and it’s also required to get federal student loans. Once you file the FAFSA, you’ll be notified by your Maine college of the student aid and loans extended to you.
It’s wise to limit borrowing as much as possible and to compare different state and federal student loans to find the option that offers your best deal.
Borrowers should also be aware that federal student loans provide important benefits they may not get with state student loans — these include:
- Access to income-driven repayment plans
- Federal student loan forgiveness programs
- Ability to pause payments through forbearance or deferment (though some private lenders offer economic hardship forbearance as well)
Among federal student loans, direct subsidized loans provide the best deal compared to the other options, thanks to an interest subsidy that pays all interest while you’re in school or the loans are otherwise deferred. Direct unsubsidized loans will be your next best option, thanks to lower interest rates and loan fees.
|Federal student loan||Who can use it?||Interest Rate (2020-2021)||One-time loan fee||Interest paid for you during deferment||Annual loan limit|
|Subsidized||Undergraduate students with a demonstrated financial need||2.75%||1.059%||Yes||Up to $5,500 per school year|
|Unsubsidized||Undergraduate students||2.75%||1.059%||No||Up to $7,500 per school year for dependent students
Up to $12,500 per school year for independent students
|Unsubsidized (for graduate students)||Students working toward a graduate or professional degree||4.30%||1.059%||No||Up to $20,500 per school year|
|PLUS||Graduate students and parents of undergraduate students||5.30%||4.236%||No||Cost of attendance, after all other student aid is applied|
|All information current as of July 21, 2020. Source: Federal Student Aid|
Private student loans in Maine
A final educational borrowing option is private student loans, which are offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders.
Private student loans usually can’t beat the affordability and benefits provided by federal and Maine student loans. You’ll also need a good credit score and a solid financial situation — or a cosigner who meets that criteria — to get approved for most private student loans in Maine.
Even so, private student loans can make sense for some situations when federal loans or other options fall short. But to make these private loans work for you, you’ll need to shop around and compare terms and rates to find the best private student loans for you.
Here are some private student loan features to compare:
- Rates, fees and other costs: Watch out for annual percentage rates (APRs) and interest rates, and don’t overlook the difference between variable and fixed rates. You can even collect custom quotes to get a more accurate picture of which lender can offer your best deal.
- Loan terms and repayment plans: Watch for loan terms that match your student debt goals, whether that’s five years or 25 years. Check each lender’s in-school deferment options, which can range from full deferment to immediate full repayment, with several options in between.
- Borrower protections: Private student loans won’t offer the same robust borrower protections you’d get with federal student loans, but many lenders do provide benefits like hardship forbearance or unemployment protection.
Once you’ve identified the top features you’re looking for in a private student loan, it’s time to compare offers. A smart place to start your search for Maine student loans is with The Loan for ME resource from FAME, which lists several local private lenders that offer certified education loans.
Here are some private student loans worth taking a look at:
|Bath Savings||● Borrow at least $1,500
● Variable interest rates starting between 3.00% and 6.75%, with origination fees of 2% to 6% (rates current as of July 21, 2020)
● Range of repayment options such as full deferment, interest-only payments or full immediate repayment
|CPort Credit Union||● Loan balances from $2,000 up to the lower of the full attendance cost minus aid or $40,000 per year
● Variable interest rates starting between 3.77% to 6.77%, plus an origination fee of 2% to 6% (rates current as of July 21, 2020)
|Infinity Federal Credit Union||● Loan balances from $1,500 up to $40,000 per year (loan cannot exceed attendance costs minus aid)
● Variable interest rates starting between 3.25% and 7.25% (rates current as of July 21, 2020)
● No origination fee
|University Credit Union||● Loan balances from $1,500 up to $40,000 per year
● No origination fee
|College Ave Student Loans||● Loan balances from $1,000 up to 100% of the cost of attendance
● Fixed and variable interest rates ranging from 3.74% (fixed) and 3.64% (variable), based on current offers
● Terms of five, 8, 10 or 15 years, with a range of repayment and deferment options
|CommonBond||● Loan options for undergraduate, graduate and professional students
● Terms of five, 10 or 15 years, with a range of repayment and deferment options
How to refinance Maine student loans
If you already have Maine student loans to repay, you might be interested in consolidating or refinancing them into a single loan to simplify your debt:
- A direct consolidation loan can be used to consolidate federal student loans, replacing them with one loan with a weighted average rate of the previous debt. You can estimate your rate with our weighted average interest rate calculator.
- Student loan refinancing issues a new private loan to replace your previous student loans. The new student loan can have new terms, including a different (ideally, lower) interest rate.
Combining loans through a direct consolidation loan is fairly simple, but refinancing with a private lender can be worth considering, too.
|Before resorting to consolidation or refinancing…|
|See if you’re eligible for student loan repayment assistance programs from Maine’s government or your employer. New Maine residents could also score a loan payment reimbursement via the Opportunity Maine Tax Credit.|
First, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of refinancing student loans to be sure it’s a good move for you. To qualify, you’ll need good credit and other solid financials (or a cosigner who does).
You should also note that refinancing with a private lender will also mean you’ll lose federal student loan benefits, such as access to different repayment plans or the option to pursue federal student loan forgiveness.
On the upside, refinancing Maine student loans can help you switch to a new lender, lower your student loan interest rate or pay less toward your student debt. Our student loan refinancing calculator (try it, below) can give you a preview of your potential savings. If you have a stable financial situation — one where you don’t think you’ll need to access federal loan benefits like forbearance or income-driven repayment — and are looking for an opportunity to lower your student debt costs, refinancing could be a smart move.
Student Loan Refinancing Calculator
Finding a Maine student loan refinance lender
All of this requires finding your best student loan refinancing lender, of course, so figure out what you want in a refinance loan and research your options. One option is choosing a Maine student loan refinance lender certified by FAME.
Here are some Maine student loan refinance lenders, including some nationally available options, to get you started (all rates are current as of July 21, 2020):
|Bath Savings||● Fixed interest rates between 4.75% and 9.00% (rates current as of July 21, 2020)
● Origination fee of 2% to 6%
● Option to add a qualified co-applicant to get a better rate and lower fee
|Maine Savings Federal Credit Union||● Variable interest rates starting between 3.50% to 8.25%, with the option to enroll in autopay for a 0.25% rate discount (rates current as of July 21, 2020)
● Origination fee of 2% to 6%
|Seaboard Federal Credit Union||● Fixed interest rates between 5.00% and 9.00% and variable interest rates starting between 3.75% and 7.50% (rates current as of July 21, 2020)
● No origination fee
|University Credit Union||● Fixed interest rates between 5.25% and 9.25% and variable interest rates starting between 3.25% and 7.25% (rates current as of July 21, 2020)
● No origination fee
● Must be a credit union member
|Earnest||● New student loan lengths of five to 20 years
● APRs start at 2.98% (fixed) and 1.99% (variable), including a 0.25% rate discount for autopay enrollment
● No origination fee
|Laurel Road||● Choose a loan term of five, seven, 10, 15 or 20 years
● Rates start at 3.00% (fixed) and 1.99% (variable), including a 0.25% rate discount for autopay enrollment
● No origination fees
Note: Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to student loan interest rates and terms. The financial institutions mentioned have neither provided nor reviewed the information shared in this article.
Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?
Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.