College loans will be harder to get

March 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The credit crunch is affecting student college loans, making them more difficult and more expensive to get.

Transfer students from Cabrillo Community College in Santa Cruz, toured U.C. Berkeley on Monday. Not even enrolled, many worry about affording the tuition here.

"I'm planning on transferring and that is one of my major problems right now," said Susana Valerio, a student.

Susana Valerio may be alarmed to find out a few lenders are no longer offering federally backed student loans.

Some lenders sell these students loans on the secondary market, that's how they've made their money in the past.

"These student loans are their revenue, selling them on the secondary market is their revenue, so if they can't get their money on the secondary market, they can't offer new loans to students who need loans, so that's where they are really struggling," said Andrea Coombes with Marketwatch.

Still, universities are assuring students there will be no shortage of federal loans.

Nancy Coolidge oversees student aid for the UC system.

"We have over two-thousand lenders and the students will be inconvenienced by having to switch lenders if they are in the FFEL program but they can still get loans," said Coolidge.

F.F.E.L. stands for Federal Family Education Loan program. The federal funds are there, guaranteed, it's just fewer lenders that are using this money.

"The large and most efficient players continue and some of the smaller players who got in on the moment are leaving," said Coolidge.

Still, even the big players are not offering the kind of discounts offered before the credit crunch. The interest rate on these federally backed loans average 6.8 percent.

As a freshman the most you can borrow from the federal loan program is $3,500 and that may not be enough. Some students attending private colleges may need to borrow more money, except getting a private loan these days, may be difficult.

Private loans are not guaranteed by the government.

"Some of the private lenders are having trouble financing these loans and so there are fewer lenders in the marketplace and you are likely to find higher rates," said Coombes.

In some cases as high as 14 percent.


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