Federal and private student loan borrowers in Wyoming owe an average of $29,315, 20% less than the national average of $36,689. But it’s still a significant sum of money, and many Cowboy State borrowers will need to look for ways to help pay for college.
Wyoming offers state assistance programs, such as the Wyoming Works grant for adult students to sharpen their skills. While amounts vary, eligible residents can receive up to $840 a semester or $1,680 a year. Plus, the Wyoming Works Critical Grant could boost the amount of aid to up to $1,680 a semester, or $3,360 a year.
Here’s a look at Wyoming student loans and repayment options.
Wyoming student loans: Borrowers owe average of $29,315 in federal, private debt
With Wyoming borrowers owing an average of $29,315 in federal and private student loans, the state ranks on the low end of what borrowers in the U.S pay on average. In fact, only those living in Nebraska and North Dakota carry a smaller student loan debt.
Compared to residents in some nearby states, Wyoming borrowers fall somewhat in the middle. Those with federal and private student loans in Nebraska and North Dakota carry average balances of $28,684 and $29,246, respectively. On the other hand, those in Idaho and Colorado shoulder greater student loan debt, at an average of $32,142 and $34,497, respectively.
Wyomingites pay 44% less, on average, than those who reside in the District of Columbia (with its $52,049 average debt).
4 things to know about going to college in Wyoming
For a state that only has about 600,000 residents, Wyoming offers quite a few funding options for those who want to pursue a higher education:
- Largest in the state: Of the universities and colleges in Wyoming, the University of Wyoming has the most students, with nearly 11,000 on- and off-campus students.
- Seven community colleges: These community colleges are spread across the state, from Northwest College in Powell to Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. The Wyoming Community Colleges system boasts a faculty-to-student ratio ranging from 14:1 to 19:1.
- Cowboy Commitment: First-year students attending the University of Wyoming might be able to get help through the Cowboy Commitment The funding amount of this merit-based scholarship depends on your ACT/SAT scores and unweighted GPA. Eligible freshmen can receive between $500 and $6,500.
- Hathaway Scholarship: The Hathaway Scholarship program offers need-based and merit-based scholarships to students attending middle school or high school in the state. The funding can go toward tuition at the University of Wyoming or a Wyoming community college. The scholarship amounts range from $840 to $1,680 and are renewable for up to eight semesters based on meeting the requirements.
Loan repayment programs for Wyoming residents
Student loan forgiveness can help alleviate the burden of student loan debt. Wyoming borrowers have access to several student loan repayment programs.
Indian Health Services Loan Repayment Program (IHS LRP)
Health professionals who work in high-need areas with American Indian and Alaska Native communities could receive up to $40,000 for a minimum of two years of service. Participants in the federal IHS LRP can extend their agreement until their student debt is paid off.
Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
Registered nurses, advanced practice registered nurses and nurse faculty eligible for the federal Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program can apply to have up to 85% of their outstanding nursing education debt paid off. Recipients are required to work in a critical shortage facility or eligible nursing school (nurse faculty only) for two years.
Program participants would receive 60% of their total outstanding nursing debt in those first two years. They could then apply for an additional service commitment of one year to earn the remaining 25%.
Wyoming Adjunct Professor Loan Repayment Program (WAPLR)
Public school teachers who are working toward their qualifications to teach certain college-level courses at a state community college could be eligible to receive funding through the WAPLR. Recipients must be nominated by their school district and must sign up to teach in a Wyoming school district for two years within two years of being fully qualified. There is no set funding amount — it’s set by how much is appropriated.
Wyoming State Loan Repayment Program
Physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, mental health clinicians and certified nurse midwives who work at a National Health Service Corps-approved site in a health professional shortage area could be eligible for the Wyoming State Loan Repayment Program.
Physicians are eligible for up to $40,000 a year for a two-year, full-time commitment. The other eligible licensed health care pros can receive up to $20,000 a year for the same two-year, full-time commitment.
Wyoming federal student loan borrowers younger than 25 owe less than national average — plus a look at payment status
How to refinance Wyoming student loans
With 5.4% of borrowers in Wyoming owing $100,000 or more in federal student loans, refinancing could be a good way to pay them off faster and save money.
When you refinance your student loans, you swap your private and federal loans for a new private loan. One benefit of doing so is that you could lock in a lower interest rate, which could help you save money. Another advantage is that you can opt for a new repayment term, which could either help free up cash each month or help you crush your debt quicker.
CHECK IT OUT: Student Loan Repayment Calculator
Typically, you refinance through an online lender, bank or credit union. In Wyoming, you can apply to refinance your student loans through state-based financial institutions, such as UniWyo Federal Credit Union.
However, there are a few downsides to refinancing. A major one is that when you make your federal loans private, you give up some of the protections that come with federal student debt — among them is the option for deferment or forbearance, nor will you be eligible to apply for any federal forgiveness programs. And while some private lenders offer different forbearance and deferment options, their offerings typically aren’t the same as what’s available at the federal level.
- 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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