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.
* * *
If you are a college graduate in Missouri, you may have left school with less debt than students in states like New Jersey or Vermont, but you probably had some student loan debt. The average balance on a student loan in Missouri is around $29,225.
There are various sources for Missouri student loans and also many ways to ease the burden of the loans you already have. Let’s look at the following topics:
Missouri student loans
Like students in other states, Missourians have access to federal and private student loans to help them cover the cost of college. Here are the three main categories to look at:
Federal student loans
Depending on where you are in school or if you’re a parent trying to help your child pay for school, the U.S. Department of Education (DoED) offers a few federal loan options.
Here are the details of what’s available as of July 28, 2020:
|Loan type||Designed for||Requires a credit check?||Interest rates||Loan fee|
|Direct Subsidized Loans||Undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need||No||2.75||1.059%|
|Direct Unsubsidized Loans||Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students||No||2.75% for undergraduates, 4.30% for graduate and professional students||1.059%|
|Direct PLUS Loans||Graduate and professional students, and parents of undergraduate students||Yes||5.30%||4.236%|
Private student loans
If federal loans aren’t enough to cover your education expenses, you can also consider private student loans. Like direct PLUS, these loans require a credit check, so you may need to find a cosigner with strong credit if your credit history is poor or limited.
While these lenders typically don’t offer IDR plans or loan forgiveness, some private student loan companies provide borrowers with competitive interest rates and terms.
Below are some of the top examples, including rates:
Check out these and other private student lenders to determine if one is the right choice for you.
Missouri student loans and repayment programs
Before you take out a private student loan or refinance your school debt, you’ll also want to consider some opportunities special for Missouri students — specifically:
Missouri Health Professional Nursing Student Loans and Nurse Loan Repayment Programs
If you’re a resident of Missouri attending a Missouri school and are in a program that leads to licensure as a practical or professional nurse, you could qualify for a loan through the state’s Health Professional Nursing Student Loans program. There are two programs – the Nurse Loan Repayment Program. This program is eligible for educational loan forgiveness if you serve at any hospital in the state or in an area in need for two years.
Here’s what you need to know about the program:
- Registered nurses can receive up to $10,000 in forgiveness for a two-year service commitment.
- Advanced practice nurses can receive up to $20,000 in forgiveness for a two-year service commitment.
The second program available is the Nurse Student Loan program. For this program nursing students receive partial funding in exchange for full-time service obligation for one year, per loan, in a qualifying facility where health professionals are in short supply. Here are the amounts available to eligible students.
- Licensed practical nurse students can qualify for up to $2,500 a loan.
- Professional nursing students can qualify for up to $5,000 a loan.
To qualify, your nursing program must have a pass rate of at least 80%, and you need to maintain a 2.5 GPA. If you choose not to serve in an area in need, the interest rate on your loans is 9.5%.
In addition, there are two other programs in place to help medical and dental students and professionals.
Primary Care Resource Initiative of Missouri (PRIMO)
The Primary Care Resource Initiative for Missouri program offers medical, dental, pre-med and pre-dental or dental hygienist students funds to pay for their education in exchange for working full time at a facility in need of medical and dental professionals.
There are a variety of loans and repayment plans available via PRIMO, including funds of up to $25,000 depending on your discipline in school and the service obligation for loan forgiveness.
Missouri State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
Psychiatrists, primary care physicians and dentists are eligible for $50,000 in education loan repayment in exchange for two years of service in a health professional shortage area through this repayment program. There are several components to this program and visiting the SLRP website is a great way to start learning more about it.
Refinancing Missouri student loans
If you’ve already graduated, you may feel like you’ve missed the boat on getting lower student loan interest rates. Fortunately, that’s not the case.
You can potentially qualify for a lower interest rate and a lower monthly payment on your Missouri student loans by refinancing them with a private lender.
Student loan refinancing companies typically offer both variable and fixed interest rates, and some of their best rates can even be lower than what the federal government offers.
Like private student loans, these refinancing loans require a credit check. They also generally don’t offer IDR plans or loan forgiveness.
Here are a few of the top student loan refinancing companies:
|Student loan company||Variable interest rates||Fixed interest rates||Minimum loan refinance amount||Origination fee|
|First Republic||Not available||1.95% – 4.45%||$5,000||None|
|SoFi||2.25% – 6.09%||2.99% – 6.09%||$5,000||None|
|Earnest||1.99% – 5.74%||2.98% – 5.89%||$5,000||None|
Compare several student loan refinancing companies to increase your chances of being qualified for your best terms. Also, look at repayment terms, fees and other features to ensure you get the right lender for you.
Missouri grants and scholarships
Even if Missourians tend to take on less debt than the national average, $29,200 in student loans is still a lot. With a 5% interest rate and a 10-year repayment period, that’s a monthly payment of $310. Use our Student Loan Payment Calculator to see how much you will pay each month for your student loans
So if you’re still in college, it’s important to take steps now to reduce your dependency on student loans with scholarships and grants so that you can have more financial freedom after you graduate. Here are our top tips for students living and going to school in Missouri:
- Investigate the wide range of scholarships for students. Several organizations and companies offer scholarships, which is money that you don’t have to pay back. Apply for as many as you can to maximize your chances.
- Check out our Student Loan Hero $5K Scholarship. Visit the website and write an essay for the chance to win a $5,000 or $2,000 scholarship.
- Investigate the A+ Scholarship Program. If you are a graduate of A+ designated high school and attend a technical, vocational or community college, you could be eligible for funds to help pay for your education.
- Apply for Missouri’s Advanced Placement Grant of $500. A nonrenewable monetary award for high school students who take and receive a high score on their science and math advanced placement tests.
- The Bright Flight Program aims to encourage academically talented Missouri students in their home state for higher education. High school students who meet specific ACT and SAT test score requirements could earn up to $3,000 in award money.
- Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Depending on your need, you may qualify for subsidized federal student loans — the government covers your interest while you’re in school — or a Pell Grant, which you typically don’t need to repay.
Final thoughts: reduce, research and refinance
While you’re still in school, reducing the amount you borrow in student loans should be your top priority. But if you fall short on covering your tuition and living expenses, do your research to ensure that you’re getting the best deal available to you.
After you graduate, learn more about how to refinance your student loans to get a better interest rate or lower monthly payment.
While it’s possible that you won’t qualify for a better rate, you’ll never know if you don’t try. And if you do qualify for a lower rate, you could end up saving hundreds, if not thousands, in interest over the life of your loans.
Maya Dollarhide contributed to this report.
Need a student loan?
Here are our top student loan lenders of 2021!