Student Loan Options
Handling the Cost of College
Studies show even some college will make a huge difference in the lifetime earnings of your children. Unfortunately, the cost of college continues to rise even faster than inflation. Most students and their parents need some assistance in covering the bill. This page outlines options for the gap between what you've saved and the total cost.
Federal Student Aid
Direct Federal Student Aid and the Direct Student Loan Program are handled by the U.S. Department of Education. They include a variety of grants and student loans that are often the first choice for financing education. Visit Federal Student Aid web site for up-to-date information on your options and how to apply. Here is a brief summary of what is available.
- Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans Loans are to students based on financial need. No interest accrues during schooling. It's used for undergraduate or graduate-level studies.
- Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans Same as subsidized loans except financial need is not a factor. Interest accrues during schooling.
- Federal Parent PLUS Loans Made to parents of dependent undergraduate students. Interest and principal payments begin immediately.
- Federal Pell Grants A one year cash payment for undergraduate education that does not have to be repaid. Based on financial need.
DCU Private Student Lending Solutions
DCU offers student lending solutions to help you fill the funding gaps that federal aid can leave behind. By partnering with other credit unions to form Credit Union Student Choice, we are able to offer members lower cost financing options that will help you or a family member achieve your dream of a higher education. Learn more or apply online.
DCU Student Loan Refinance Program
Through our partnership with Credit Union Student Choice, DCU also offers a Student Consolidation Loan that will help members who have completed their college education, manage their student loan debt by refinancing and consolidating federal, PLUS, private, and institutional loans in to one loan and one monthly payment. Learn more or apply online.
DCU Home Equity Loans
Many members take advantage of the equity in their home to finance education. For most people interest is tax deductible and interest rates are low. See Home Equity Loans for more details. DCU is an equal housing lender. Your rate is determined by your personal credit history.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
The best way to pay for education is to get someone else to do it for you. There is an incredible amount of money available if you are willing to do the legwork.
- Scholarships Contact your high school and college financial aid offices. For scholarships, you should also talk to your employer, service clubs in your area, and local businesses to see what is available and how to apply. You may want to visit FinAid The Financial Aid Information Page for more information on financial aid and to search for scholarships.
- Employer tuition reimbursement If you are working full-time and want to get your undergraduate or graduate degree, many employers have tuition reimbursement programs that pay all or part of the cost of college tuition, books, and fees. Most have a minimum grade requirement and may insist the degree be job-related. Currently, employer tuition reimbursement is not subject to federal income taxes for most people. Ask your employer's Human Resources Department for details.
- DCU Scholarship Program This annual program is for students who are graduating high school seniors headed for accredited colleges or universities.
Money Saving Options For School
The earlier you can prepare for your education expenses, the less the financial burden will be. You have several options.
- DCU Coverdell Education Savings Account Formerly known as the Education IRA, this program allows anyone to contribute up to $2,000 per year, after-tax, for higher education expenses for a child under 18. Earnings accumulate and can be withdrawn tax-free.
529 Plans This is a state-sponsored education savings plan named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. A key benefit of a 529 plan is that you pay no taxes as your account accumulates. Additionally, under the current tax law, withdrawals taken from the plan to pay qualified higher education expenses can be made free of federal income tax for both the account owner and the beneficiary (see below).
- Traditional IRAs These IRAs allow you to make penalty-free withdrawals for qualified education expenses. However, you will owe taxes on the pre-tax contributions and earnings. If these funds are already earmarked for your retirement, this may not be a prudent choice. Funds withdrawn from retirement savings and used for other purposes are always a challenge to replace. What's more, you'll lose compound growth on those funds while they are gone. IRAs are available at DCU.