Lessons in Student Loans: Delays in Delivering Funds Can Pose Problems

Article excerpt

If it hadn't been for a student loan, John Bobb-Semple would not have gone to college.

But even with his student loans, it wasn't easy.

Bobb-Semple, who attended Tulsa Community College and the University of Central Oklahoma, said student loans were part of the tools he needed to get his college degree.

"I was one of five children," he said. "If it wasn't for student loans, I wouldn't have been able to go to college. Without them, it would not have been possible."

But for Bobb-Semple the process of getting those loans, the delays and the frustrations of waiting for them to arrive and the financial problems caused by the float time were not a good part of the college experience.

"I believe student loans are 100 percent worth it," he said. "But there need to be changes. Students need to understand the loan and the interest, but they also need to be educated about the more consumer aspects of student loans: when they arrive, how the process works, the time frame involved on when they get their money and other issues like that."

Bobb-Semple, who graduated in 2009, said every semester there was a race to ensure that his funding had arrived, the proper amount was received and that his bills could be paid on time.

"I worked three jobs and had loans to get through school," he said. "And I could survive when the funds were delayed, but I know many students who really struggled. I remember once that a friend slept on my couch for several weeks until his loans arrived. Then he could pay his rent."

Bobb-Semple isn't alone. Across the nation, college students face close to $1 trillion in student loan debt.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, there are two main sources for student loans - the soon-to-be-extinct Federal Family Education Loan, or FFEL, program and the Federal Direct Loan Program.

At present, the FFEL program has about $390 billion in outstanding loans. That figure includes $77 billion in Stafford loans, $81 billion in unsubsidized Stafford loans, $21 billion in PLUS loans and $211 billion in consolidation loans.

The Federal Direct Loan Program has about $220 billion in loans, including $58 billion in subsidized Stafford loans, $59 billion in unsubsidized Stafford loans, $20 billion in PLUS loans and $83 billion in consolidation loans. …