As a necessity for most students attending an optometric program, student loans are the dominant means by which students finance their optometric education. There are personal income sources, scholarships, and grants that students can utilize in paying for education, but most students will rely on loans as the primary method in paying for school and living costs. This article will serve as a brief summary of the types of loans available for students seeking to finance an optometric education.
Market rate loans are generally higher than educational loans and as such, educational loans are usually preferred for students. Many of these educational loans have federal or state subsidies and deferred interest or principal repayments usually until completion of the academic program. The following are several educational loans that require student qualification through a process that determines need. Here is a short list of some of the more common educational loans students can consider when planning for financing optometry school.
Federal Perkins Loan Program:
These are low-interest student loans for graduate students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Students who qualify can be awarded between $250 to $2,500 each year at 5 percent interest rate.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans:
Federal unsubsidized loans are available to help eligible students cover the costs of higher education. Students may be eligible for up to $40,500 per year at a fixed interest rate of 6.8 percent. As unsubsidized loans, these loans begin to accumulate interest immediately upon disbursement.
Health Professions Student Loans:
The Health Professions Student Loan program provides a low interest rate loan to students who demonstrate a financial need. Those students who qualify can be eligible for a sum of $250 to $4,000 at 5percent interest rate. Parental information is used to determine eligibility.
Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS):
This loan provides low interest rates to students from disadvantaged backgrounds that demonstrate a financial need. Those students who are eligible can receive between $250 to $3,000 each year at a 5 percent interest rate. Parental information is used to determine eligibility.
Direct PLUS Loans (Parents and Graduate or Professional Students)
Funding is available to students and parents of graduate or professional students who meet certain criteria. The interest rates are fixed at 7.9 percent.
These loans are very limited and are only available to students who have experienced delays in the processing of their financial aid and who are awaiting disbursement. Sums from $500 to $1,000 are available.
Most students utilize Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans. The maximum amount that can be borrowed is quite large but unfortunately, interest begins to accumulate immediately upon disbursement of the money. When this interest is compounded over four-years (and beyond), the costs of this type of aid can escalate rather quickly.
The money and costs associated with attending optometry school can be daunting, but luckily there are ways to make the repayment of loans less burdensome upon graduation.