When students need to cover their educational costs, they mostly think about federal or state assistance programs. While these options can bring huge benefits, not all students qualify for these plans. Another way that students usually consider the last is the private education programs. However, if eligibility criteria are met, such programs can help students to a great extent. One such opportunity is available to students in Georgia state, which is called Student Access Loan. This loan requires only a 1% interest rate that is also fixed. Hence, it can be an affordable way of meeting educational expenses. Besides, it provides ways to discharge the loan. In this guide, we will discuss the details of the access loan and share some tips. 

What is a Student Access Loan?

Student Access Loan is a low-interest source of funds for undergraduate and technical college students. The program is offered by the Georgia Student Finance Authority(GSFA), which cares about students who cannot afford educational expenses. Hence, this opportunity aims to help people meet their educational costs with affordable loan debt, which requires only 1% interest. Besides, the interest rate is fixed, so borrowers do not need to worry about raising stakes. The eligibility criteria involve some details, but first, students can be eligible for this loan if they attend in:

  • Qualifying University System of Georgia; or
  • Private Postsecondary Institution in Georgia; or
  • Technical College System of Georgia.

General Eligibility Criteria

As the program is offered in Georgia, one of its primary conditions requires students to be Georgia and United State citizens. Some non-citizens can also qualify for this program. Another simple requirement is the age limitation, which involves students older at or older than 18. As mentioned before, a student should attend one of the three options, or in other words, he/she should be enrolled in a qualifying institution at least half-time. This financial assistance program considers students’ performance in schools. Hence, it is necessary to have a Satisfactory level of Academic Progress to access a college loan. This level is identified through the rules and regulations of the attending institution. Lastly, students can qualify for this opportunity to apply with a full and valid Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 

USG and Private Postsecondary Institution

The requirements and specifications for two of the qualifying institutions listed above- University System and Private postsecondary institution- are similar. For the last option, which is the Technical College System, the conditions change.

Eligibility criteria 

Before, we mentioned that students usually consider state programs the last. This trend is not a coincidence or does not emerge because students prefer federal loans. Instead, programs like Student Access Loans make it a requirement to exhaust all other options before applying. Hence, a student should first apply for any available opportunity to cover educational costs. Once there is no possibility left, he/she can apply for a Student Access Loan. Other options include federal and state loans, scholarships, and even benefits for veterans. 

Loan Terms

If students in these eligible institutions apply for the access loan, they will get a 1% interest rate. This rate does not change if the borrower is still enrolled or keeps good payment status after school. In return, debtors should comply with payments, which can be as low as $10. Sixty days after receiving the loan, the borrower should make the first KIT – Keep in Touch- payment. These payments should be made while the borrower studies and during the grace period. When it comes to the repayment period, it can be up to 15 years. Debtors in this stage should allocate at least $50 to repayment from their incomes.

The minimum loan amount is $500, while the maximum term loan is $4000. There exists a limit of $8000 yearly, and the loan amount can be up to $36000 for the whole duration of studies. 

When applying for this loan, students should also consider origination fees. This fee is non-refundable, and it is 5% of the borrowed amount. However, origination fees cannot exceed $50. The lender gets this fee as a deduction from the disbursement. 

Service Cancellation

It is possible to eliminate the Student Access Loan through the service cancellation system. It is available to teachers and public servants in Georgia state. Teachers should serve in the STEM field for a minimum of 90 days, while this service duration is a minimum of one year for public service.

What is Different for Loans from the Technical College System?

The previously mentioned “exhaustion” rule, which requires applying other available options, is also applicable to students of the Technical College System in Georgia. Plus, the interest rate, KIT payments, origination fee, and repayment conditions stay the same. However, differences exist in minimum/maximum limitations for the loan, depending on the period. For example, in this case, the minimum loan should be $300, as opposed to $500 for previously mentioned institutions. The maximum term loan is also less, at around $1500. There is a limit of $3000 yearly, and during the whole studies, the loan amount can reach a maximum of $12000, which is three times higher for other institutions. 

Though the limitations are less favorable, this Student Access Loan has a considerable benefit. Besides providing necessary funds to study, it offers loan discharge options to students who graduate from these eligible institutions with a cumulative 3.5 or higher GPA (Grade Point Average). In this case, the loan is canceled for the program that the student achieved a high GPA. 

Application 

The Student Access Loan is granted to students in selection groups. The selection prioritizes students who received HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships and previous borrowers of the access program. Yet, not all previous debtors are in the selection group. They can only be given priority if they can maintain good standing. If there are still available places, students will be selected based on the ‘first-come-first-serve’ principle depending on the funding level. Being in this category can increase the chance to access a college loan, but it is not guaranteed. If the loan is granted, the funds are sent directly to the institution. The program officials recommend borrowing only the necessary amount because excessive borrowing can be difficult to repay. 

Why Opt for a Student Access Loan?

This funding opportunity can be available to students who do not qualify for any other federal or state program assistance. The loan has a very low fixed interest rate, which makes it easy to repay. Besides, loan repayments have three forms:

  1. Repayment through cash and interest rate, which is typical for loan borrowers.
  2. Students of USG and postsecondary institutions can enjoy repayment through service cancellation that will erase the debt.
  3. Students of the Technical College System can enjoy discharge if they graduate with a high GPA.

Hence, this program is worth trying if a student meets eligibility requirements.

Are There Other Programs Similar to Student Access Loan?

Such loan assistance programs are also available in other states. One of such programs can be a college access loan, which targets students in need in Texas. Though it aims to help students cover their educational costs like student access loans, it requires higher interest -4.20%. Besides, the conditions are different. Hence, if you want to get help through such programs, check which ones are available in your state and what the requirements are. Alternatively, you can contact Student Loans Resolved to get financial advice.