New student loan available for middle-income families

By Kristiina Ellam

A new student loan is available at NIU this fall for middle-income Illinois families.

Linda Dersch, NIU Assistant Director of Financial Aid, said the Illinois Opportunity Loan Program, offered by the Illinois Assistance Commission, was designed to help middle-income families in Illinois meet higher education’s rising costs.

According to Dersch, the loan is not need-based, and anyone can apply.

“The Illinois Student Assistance Commission issued almost $60 million in tax exempt revenue bonds to be used as proceeds to make loans directly to students,” said Kathy Rooney, Executive Assistant to the ISAC Executive Director.

Dersch noted there will not be a tax increase because bonds were sold to fund the Illinois Opportunity Loan.

To be eligible for this guaranteed student loan, students must be enrolled full-time as sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students or in degree programs at eligible postsecondary education institutions. Freshman are not eligible.

The maximum amount of an annual loan through the Illinois Opportunity Loan and the Stafford Loan Program combined are:

*$2,625 for sophomore level of undergraduate study;

*$4,000 for junior and senior levels of undergraduate study;

*$7,500 for graduate and professional students.

While in school, students are required to pay interest quarterly on their loan, Dersch said.

Rooney said this program has been running smoothly. “We didn’t expect to get it up and running until next year,” she said.

For more information, contact the NIU Financial Aid office at 753-1395.