Students planning to finance college tuition and related expenses with loans this fall may have to change lenders, but “loans are out there,” Glenda Huff, director of financial aid at Howard Payne University, said Tuesday.
“The negative is always played up a bit, I think,” Huff said. “Some lenders have stopped participating for various reasons as their capital dried up, but we’ve not encountered any problems. Students may find that the banks they’ve chosen before are no longer making loans, but there are other lenders available.”
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that a Massachusetts state lending authority that provided more than $500 million of college financing last year said it won’t be able to offer the bulk of its loans this year because of turmoil in the financial markets. The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority said it won't provide private loans, which accounted for 80 percent of the authority’s business last year.
The agency is encouraging the 40,000 students and families it has worked with in the past to seek federal loans on their own and private loan through banking institutions.
The student-loan market began to face problems late last year, falling victim to the same subprime mortgage crisis that befell many homeowners, the AP reported. A lack of investor interest dries up demand for auction-rate bonds, the kind of long-term debt many lenders use to underwrite student loans.
Huff said as the first of August approaches, her office is getting busy handling student financial aid applications for the fall semester.
“The summer gets by us so quickly,” Huff said, “and we’re starting school a bit earlier this year.” She said the first day of classes at Howard Payne will be Aug. 19.
Huff said some lenders appear to be less interested in making loans for students at proprietary schools which specialize in training for specific skills, some community colleges and those at educational institutions that have had a high default rate. However, if a student cannot obtain a loan, states have a “lender of last resort” available.
“It’s a guarantee agency, but the student has to prove no other loans are available,” Huff said. “We can certainly help, but we haven’t encountered that sort of problem. But a student may have to go to another choice of lender.”
Huff said obtaining student loans “is not quite as simple” as it has been more recently, but it’s still not as difficult as it was a few decades ago.
“We’ve just enjoyed a time when the process has been easy,” Huff said, “and we can get used to that.”