From Rutgers to Princeton, from Seton Hall to the Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey is full of highly sought-after colleges and universities. In fact, more than 242,000 undergraduates attended college full time in the Garden State in 2017.
If you’re one of them, you might be wondering about your options for New Jersey student loans to pay for college. And if you already graduated from a New Jersey school, you’re probably looking for the best ways to manage student loan repayment.
Whether you’re new to college or already attended, a Jersey native or coming from out of state, you have lots of options for borrowing or refinancing your student loans. Read on for a full breakdown of student loans in New Jersey.
New Jersey student debt: At a glance
|Average debt at graduation||$29,878|
|Percent of students that graduate with debt||61%|
|National ranking for amount of debt||18|
|National average debt at graduation (Class of 2017)||$39,400|
|Info current as of 2015-16 school year, except as noted
Source: The Institute for College Access & Success
How to get New Jersey loans
Federal and New Jersey student loans
Although it’s never a good idea to take on too much debt, borrowing student loans can be a useful tool for paying for college. Your first stop on the hunt for New Jersey student loans should be Federal Student Aid.
After submitting the FAFSA, you can access federal student loans such as Direct Subsidized Loans or Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Both come with a 5.05% interest rate and 1.062% origination fee for undergraduates. Subsidized loans have better terms than unsubsidized ones, since the government covers interest during the grace period, but they’re only available to students with demonstrated financial need.
Another federal student loan option is designed for parents: the Parent PLUS Loan. This loan carries a 7.60% interest rate and 4.248% origination fee. Your parent can borrow up to the full cost of attendance of your school, but will need to pass a credit check to qualify.
Besides federal student loans, you also have a state option for student loans in New Jersey from the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA). HESAA offers the NJCLASS Loan to New Jersey residents and out-of-state students attending New Jersey schools at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
You can choose repayment terms of 10, 15, or 20 years, and your fixed interest rates start at 4.79% (plus a 3% loan administration fee). Although these terms seem competitive, HESAA has come under fire in recent years for allegations of predatory lending and collection practices.
A flood of lawsuits directed at HESAA cited purported abuses such as high interest rates and lack of flexibility in student loan repayment plans. This prompted government hearings in 2016, resulting in legislation to deal with the issue, some of which was still making its way through the legislature earlier this year.
Given this controversy, make sure to carefully review the terms for any state loans you take out, and remember that HESAA might not offer the same borrower protections as the federal government.
In fact, federal student loans also tend to be a better option than most private loans, since they come with competitive interest rates and income-driven repayment plans that adjust your monthly payments in accordance with your income. Plus, they’re eligible for forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
So before choosing a private lender, you should probably max out your eligibility for federal student loans. If you still have a gap in funding, then you might consider borrowing from a private institution.
Private student loans
Once you’ve hit your federal student loan borrowing limit, you might consider a private student loan. Private loans can come from a bank, credit union, or online lender. Since private lenders require credit checks, you might have to apply with a cosigner to qualify.
Most lenders offer variable and fixed interest rates, as well as repayment terms between five and 15 years. Unlike with federal student loans, you probably won’t have access to income-driven repayment plans or federal forgiveness programs.
That said, some private lenders offer perks such as forbearance or unemployment protection, so find out if any benefits come with your loan before you borrow.
Make sure you understand your loan’s terms and conditions before you borrow, and compare offers from multiple lenders before you pick one. To get you started, here are some recommendations for private student loans available in New Jersey. Note that rates and terms are accurate as of August 2018.
- Provident Bank
- Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union
- Provides a student line of credit from $1,000 to $25,000
- Has variable APRs between 8.00% APR and 9.50%
- Rutgers Federal Credit Union
- Finances student loans of up to $75,000
- Offers a variable APR of 14.75%
- Citizens Bank
- Lends up to $100,000 for your undergraduate degree (higher amounts for graduate degrees)
- Offers APRs from 1.23% to 11.95%
- Offers student loan repayment terms of five, 10, or 15 years for undergraduates, and 10 or 15 years for graduate students
- Offers APRs from 2.69% to 14.50%
- Gives you 1% cash back if you meet certain terms and conditions upon graduation
- College Ave Student Loans
- Finances loans from $1,000 up to your school’s cost of attendance
- Offers terms of five, eight, 10, or 15 years
- Offers APRs from 1.09% to 12.99%
Each lender is different, so take time to shop around for the best offer. By putting in the legwork now, you’ll find a private student loan with the best rates and terms.
How to refinance New Jersey student loans
Although you choose terms when you borrow student loans, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with them forever. Choosing to refinance student loans gives you the chance to restructure your debt and potentially snag a lower interest rate. By reducing your rate, you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
You can refinance both federal and private student loans, and you do so with a private lender, such as a bank, credit union, or online refinancing provider. Depending on your credit score and income (or that of your cosigner), you could get a better rate than what you currently have.
Refinancing multiple loans also means you can combine several loans into just one. Plus, you can choose new terms, whether you want to select a short term to pay your loan off faster, or a longer term to lower your monthly bills.
Although refinancing can have major benefits, it also could come with a downside: When you refinance federal student loans, you turn them into a single private one. As a result, you lose access to federal programs, including income-driven repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
If you’re relying on any of these programs, refinancing student loans probably wouldn’t be the right move. But if you’re confident about your ability to make on-time payments, refinancing could help you save money.
Several of the lenders mentioned above also offer student loan refinancing options. Here’s what they have, along with some offerings from other lenders to consider. Note that rates and terms are accurate as of August 2018.
- HESAA ReFi+ Loan Program
- Offers refinancing for NJCLASS and Parent PLUS Loans
- Provides a 10-year term with a fixed interest rate of 4.90%, 5.70%, or 6.90%, depending on creditworthiness
- First Financial Federal Credit Union
- Provides refinancing and consolidation for your student loans
- Reduces your rate by 1% when you pay off 10% of the principal
- Lets you cancel your loan for free within 30 days if you find a better offer
- Requires members to live, work, worship, volunteer, or attend school in Monmouth or Ocean counties, or meet other membership criteria
- Citizens Bank
- Refinances student loans from $10,000
- Offers terms of five, 10, 15, or 20 years
- APRs range from 1.99% to 8.49%
- Refinances student loans between $5,000 and $500,000
- APRs run from 1.99% to 5.49%
- Refinances student loans of $5,000 or more
- APRs range from 2.25% to 6.09%
There are lots of student loan refinancing providers out there, so do some research and compare offers from a few different lenders. Several online lenders allow you to check your rates with no commitment or impact on your credit score. By taking advantage of this prequalification offer, you can find the best loan for your budget.
The bottom line: student loans in New Jersey
Students in New Jersey graduated with an average $29,878 in student loans. Although this number is lower than the national average of $39,400, it’s still a lot to manage.
That said, before you take out any student loans, you’ll definitely want to look into getting scholarships and grants to offset your costs, including some that are special to New Jersey. (And if you’re interested in attending a community college, know that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy hopes to eventually make these schools free for all state residents.)
If you’re a new borrower, make sure you estimate your future monthly payments before you sign. Do your homework now so you can avoid taking on a burdensome amount of debt.
And if you’ve already got New Jersey student loans, look for strategies to manage them in the best way for your lifestyle. This guide on how to get help paying your New Jersey student loans is a great place to start.
Note: Student Loan Hero has independently collected the information related to financial products mentioned above. No financial institution provided or reviewed the information shared in this article.
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