Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Report: Low-Income Students Misinformed about Costs and Benefits of Private Loans

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Report: Low-Income Students Misinformed about Costs and Benefits of Private Loans

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Low-income undergraduate students are among the least informed about the financial aid process and are more likely to take out private loans to pay for school, according to a new report by the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

In "The Future of Private Loans: Who Is Borrowing, and Why?" the authors say it is crucial for these students to learn about the pros and cons of private loan borrowing before continuing their postsecondary education.

Ten years ago, private loans accounted for less than 5 percent of all student loans; now, private lenders control 19 percent of the student loan market. Currently, 83 percent of private loan borrowers are undergraduate students, 9 percent are graduate students, 7 percent are professional students and 1 percent are post baccalaureate students not in a degree program. Students seeking professional degrees tend to borrow the most money, nearly $11,000 a year, according to the report. By comparison, graduate students borrow more than $8,000 a year and undergraduates borrow about $6,000.

"With some analysts predicting that private loans may surpass federal student loan borrowing by the end of the decade, this study aims to look beyond the recent controversies about private loan marketing to explore critical questions about what the industry may look like in the near future," says Jamie P. Merisotis, president of IHEP.

"While private loans are comparatively a small portion of all aid for some groups of students, they are becoming increasingly Given the fact that experts are predicting private lending will continue to grow, it is important to chart a reasoned debate about private loans and their potential benefits and risks for students in the future," he says. …

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