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Nebraskans have an average federal and private student loan balance of $28,684, lowest among any state. It’s in fact 22% lower than the U.S. average of $36,689.
Eligible residents of the state receive access to affordable college through initiatives, like the Nebraska Promise program. Although these opportunities help Nebraska families pay for their child’s college admissions costs, hundreds of thousands of students still turn to federal and private Nebraska student loans to cover remaining school bills.
Nebraska student loans: Borrowers owe average of $28,684 in federal, private debt — and more facts
The Cornhusker State offers plenty of options for a public college education across the state. Within the Nebraska Community College Association, students can attend one of 13 local community colleges to pursue a certificate or earn an associate degree.
The Nebraska State College System (NSCS) also offers three state colleges for students looking to attend a four-year institution at a lower price. Alternatively, the state offers another opportunity toward a four-year college experience through the University of Nebraska system. There are four campuses, including:
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL)
- University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC)
- University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO)
- University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK)
Under the Nebraska Promise, first-time undergraduate students attending a University of Nebraska school can attend a campus of their choice, tuition-free (up to 15 credit hours per semester). Students must meet academic and income requirements, and the award is renewable each school year as long as requirements are met.
Residents also can explore 13 private institutions under the Council of Independent Nebraska Colleges Foundations. These campuses, however, are ineligible for tuition assistance under the Nebraska Promise program.
Whether attending a public or private institution, students who have maximized or are ineligible for scholarship and grant programs can turn to federal and private student loans to fill the financial gap.
Student loan debt in Nebraska’s largest counties, from Douglas to Lancaster
Student loan debt by ZIP code in Nebraska’s largest cities: Omaha, Lincoln
Loan repayment programs for Nebraska residents
For Nebraska students who are already in repayment, pursuing a loan repayment assistance program can help borrowers take care of their student debt.
Nebraska Loan Repayment Program
Workers in the state who are primary care, dental, mental health or allied health professionals might be eligible for the Nebraska Loan Repayment Program. Participants must agree to a contract in a shortage area in the state for two to four years, depending on the program.
In exchange for their service, eligible dentists and doctors can receive awards between $180,000 and $200,000. Other health workers can receive $90,000 to $100,000 in awards if they meet eligibility requirements.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
PSLF is a federal loan forgiveness program that’s available to federal direct loan borrowers in Nebraska. Participants must be employed full time with a local, state or federal government agency or nonprofit organization.
During this period, borrowers must be enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan. After 120 qualifying payments, the remaining loan balance is forgiven. There’s no tax liability on the forgiven amount and qualifying payments don’t need to be consecutive.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
Educators in Nebraska can choose to apply for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. This federal program is available to eligible borrowers who took out federal direct loans or Stafford loans. Recipients can receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness.
Nebraska federal student loan borrowers younger than 25 owe less than national average — and more comparisons
How to refinance Nebraska student loans
Of the Nebraskans who have student loans, 5.9% of borrowers have $100,000 or more in outstanding student loan debt. When student loan repayment assistance isn’t an option, student loan refinancing can be a helpful alternative.
Nebraska residents can refinance federal and private student loans. During this process, the refinance lender pays borrowers’ original loans in full. A new refinanced loan is created in their place, with a new rate and different repayment terms.
The goal in a refinance is to lock-in a lower interest rate and favorable terms that complement borrowers’ current financial situation. When refinancing federal loans, borrowers lose access to valuable benefits, like flexible income-driven payment plans and forgiveness programs.
And although some private lenders offer deferment and forbearance options, like federal loans provide, these programs’ requirements vary between lenders.
Before borrowers decide on a private student loan refinance, they should compare student loan lenders and calculate the savings that a refinance loan provides.
- U.S. Department of Education data as of June 30, 2020
- Anonymized My LendingTree June 2020 credit reports
- Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax as of June 2020
Because the latter data is from 2015, researchers estimated the increase in student loan debt per borrower in the state using statewide data from anonymized credit reports.
Interested in refinancing student loans?
Here are the top 6 lenders of 2021!