Financial aid coming up short? NC Assist loans can help students

Heidi Finley

Carolina College Bound file photo

A new loan program can help North Carolina college students cover the cost difference between their financial aid awards and their school’s price tag.

The NC Assist Loan provides competitive interest rates, has no application or origination fees and carries no pre-payment penalties, a news release about the program said. College Foundation Inc., a state-based nonprofit, administers the program that started this past spring for the State Education Assistance Authority.

“We always encourage students and parents to explore all sources of financial aid before taking out a loan, but sometimes additional funds are needed to bridge the gap,” Wendy McAlister, President of College Foundation, Inc., said in the news release. 

This school year, Federal Direct PLUS Loans for parent or graduate student borrowers carry an interest rate of 7.6 percent, with a rate reduction of 0.25 percent for auto-draft payment, and charge an origination fee of 4.264 percent, CFNC said. 

The NC Student Assist Loans have a 6.5 percent fixed interest rate, with 0.25 percent rate reduction for auto-draft payments. NC Parent Assist Loan rates have a 5.5 percent fixed interest rate, with 0.25 percent rate reduction for auto-draft payments.

The loans make up the difference between financial aid the student has received and the school’s total cost of attendance. But applicants must borrow at least $1,000 and meet financial criteria to get approved for a loan. Both loan options offer direct payment to the college, CFNC said.

CFNC spokesman Timeka Ruffin said the loans can be used by North Carolina residents to pay costs at any college that participates in loan programs, including private schools, online schools and out-of-state schools. 

Interested applicants should call (866) 886-2362 or visit CFNC.org for more information.

 

Finley is the editor of Carolina College Bound. Send questions to hfinley@charlotteobserver.com