Colorado private and federal loan borrowers owe an average balance of $34,497, which is 6% below the national average of $36,689. There are 800,000 student loan borrowers in Colorado, and the average total monthly payment is $307.
In addition to the ability to get financial aid from the federal government, Colorado has aid programs designed to help reduce the amount that students need to pay for college, including the Colorado Student Grant and tuition assistance for the dependents of different first responder groups.
If you have student loans in Colorado, here’s what you need to know.
Student loans in Colorado: Borrowers owe average of $34,497 in federal, private debt — and more facts
Colorado has 31 two-year and four-year public institutions, serving more than 250,000 students. There are also hundreds of private institutions in Colorado.
In addition to using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Colorado has its own state aid program. Students can fill out the Colorado Application for State Financial Aid (CASFA) to see if they qualify for state financial aid, including need-based grants, on top of federal aid. Colorado also offers tuition assistance to the dependents of certain professions killed or disabled in the line of duty, including law enforcement, fire and national guard.
Student loan debt in Colorado’s largest counties, from Adams to Larimer
Student loan debt by ZIP code in Colorado’s 3 largest cities: Denver, Colorado Springs and Aurora
Loan repayment programs for Colorado residents
If you have student loans in Colorado, you might be eligible for help with repayment, including some student loan forgiveness, depending on your profession. Additionally, there are federal loan repayment programs available to Colorado graduates.
Colorado Health Services Corps
If you work in an eligible health profession and are willing to spend three years working in a federal health professional shortage area, the Colorado Health Services Corps can provide up to $90,000, depending on your role, in repayment help. In addition to full-time options, there are also part-time options, although the cap on repayment is $45,000.
Colorado Law Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)
For Colorado Law students, the LRAP can provide up to $5,500 a year for graduates who go on to work in a public interest job. The award must be applied for each year, and is available for up to five years. In addition to working in a public interest job, there are also income requirements.
Colorado state dental loan repayment program
Even though dentists can apply for loan repayment through Colorado Health Services Corps, there is a separate program aimed at dentists. With the state dental loan repayment program, it’s possible for dentists to receive up to $50,000 and hygienists to receive up to $12,000, depending on the number of underserved patients they see each month. The program requires a two-year commitment.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
PSLF is a federal program that will pay off your remaining student loan balance after you make 120 qualifying payments while working in an approved public interest job, such as with a nonprofit or a government organization.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
For educators, the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program can provide up to $17,500 in forgiveness if you work for five consecutive years in a low-income area.
Colorado federal student loan borrowers younger than 25 owe less than national average — and more comparisons
How to refinance student loans in Colorado
More than 7% of those with federal student loans in Colorado owe $100,000 or more, which could make refinancing an attractive strategy. With refinancing, you might be able to lower your interest rate, saving you money and potentially allowing you to pay off your debt faster.
When you refinance student loans, you get a new loan large enough to pay off all your outstanding balances. After that, you only have one monthly payment and it might be easier to tackle your debt.
However, it’s important to remember that refinancing ends your access to government benefits like:
- Income-driven repayment
- Many forgiveness programs like PSLF and Teacher Loan Forgiveness
- Potential student loan deferment
Compare your options and make sure refinancing is the right move for you. It’s also possible to refinance private student loans and use federal loan consolidation programs on your federal student loans to maintain the government benefits that come with these loans.
- 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.
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