Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Economic Recession and its Impact on the Educational-Loan Industry

As a college senior, Laura Myers is well-versed in taking care of business. A student at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., she has juggled the roles of student, athlete and intern with the characteristic deftness of the modern day overachiever. Unfortunately for Myers, this year’s mid-semester crunch brought more than exams and early morning swim practices; in October she received notice from the Office of Financial Aid that the lender for her Stafford loan was no longer offering government-insured loans.

“It was a bad surprise that totally threw off all of my finances. I had to take out a loan to pay my rent for the month,” Myers said.

Myers is not the only student who was forced, mid-semester, to re-apply for a federally guaranteed student loan from a different lender. According to Jane Bryant Quinn of the Washington Post, approximately 70 private and nonprofit lenders have ceased to offer government-insured loans. Unable to acquire the funds to lucratively sustain these programs in the wake of the economic crisis, these lenders have begun to pull out of the educational-loan industry.

Typically, education loans are securitized following dispersion. The loans can then be invested by stockholders with the intent of accruing the interest, according to Finance professor Ehud Ronn of the University of Texas at Austin. Because of the current financial atmosphere, such investments have tapered off drastically. This causes the loans to dry up, so to speak. Fortunately, measures are being taken by the government to assuage current circumstances. In early November, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it will purchase $6.5 billion in “federally guaranteed student loans from the 2007-08 year to ensure loans remain available to students in the future.” This plan aims to buy upwards of $500 million in loans weekly until February 2009.

If you intend to borrow money through the private, FFEL market, be warned that you will be faced with increased restrictions and less than liberal lending practices. According to Quinn, those most susceptible to this new level of conservative lending are students with low credit scores (less than 650 out of 800), new borrowers and those who have parents with “adverse credit histories.”

If you are worried about your prospects for attaining a Stafford or PLUS loan through FFEL, contact your university’s aid office for assistance. They can offer you information on the lenders that are still in the market in addition to such alternatives as the Direct Loan Program, a program that allows parents and students to receive loans directly from the Department of Education instead of having to go through the banks.

1 comment:

collegeloanconsultant said...

An FFELP loan does not require good credit, unless it is a Parent PLUS loan (and even then requirements are looser than with private student loans). These loans are backed by the federal government, even though they are obtained through private lenders.

Schools can choose to use this program or the Direct Loan program. Many schools have switched to the Direct Loan program over the past year.

Federal student loans