College Students Look For New Funding Options

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By Andy Alcock
July 2, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - There's typically a steady stream of customers at Florida State's financial aid office.

Ashley Acha was one of them.

She needed to get her Pell grant money issue resolved.

She's just starting at FSU this summer.

"Before beginning college, I wasn't really accepting of the idea of having to accept loans and then have to pay them back later," said Acha.

But for many students, loans are part of the college experience.

The interest rate for the federally backed Stafford loan just doubled from 3.4 to 6.8 percent.

At FSU alone well over 10,000 students had Stafford loans last fall or about a quarter of the campus.

FSU's Assistant Vice President of Financial Aid Darryl Marshall says the Stafford loan is one of many funding possibilities.

"What we encourage all students and parents to do is complete the free application for student financial assistance first to determine all possibilities," said Marshall.

He says those possibilities include Pell grants, Florida Student Assistance Grants, institutional grants and scholarships.

Our check of private student loan rates found interest rates ranging from 2.25 percent to nearly 13 percent.

However, Marshall says the private loans typically have less repayment flexibility than the government ones.

"All you can really think about is how much you want to progress and how much you'll do whatever you need to do," said Acha.

Florida A & M Financial Aid Director Lisa Stewart says close to 90 percent of FAMU students get some type of financial aid.

She says the doubled Stafford loan rate will have a major impact on many students ability to pay back those loans.

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