New loan aimed at middle-income families

By Michael Berg

NIU students unable to get enough financial aid have a new option.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is offering a new unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan to help middle-income families who are not eligible for other assistance.

“The program is basically for students that cannot get a (subsidized) Stafford Loan,” said Soon Garcia, ISAC client service representative.

ISAC began accepting applications for the unsubsidized loans on Dec. 28.

Unlike subsidized loans, students will be responsible for the interest of the loan beginning on the day the funds are dispersed, Garcia said. The federal government pays the interest on subsidized Stafford Loans if the student is enrolled part-time.

“(The unsubsidized loan) is not based on need like the Stafford Loan,” Garcia said.

The annual interest rate on Stafford Loans is 6.94 percent. However, this rate varies with a maximum of 9 percent.

To be eligible for the new loan students must fill out the financial aid application form at their school’s financial aid office.

“First you must be considered for the regular Stafford Loan,” Garcia said. “If you are found not eligible or eligible for half of the amount allowed under the Stafford program, you can ask for the difference with the new program.”

In order to receive either type of Stafford Loan you must be a U.S. citizen, an Illinois resident or attend an ISAC-approved Illinois school, comply with select service requirements and have satisfactory academic progress as determined by each school.