Rules for Stafford loans—government loans made directly to students—are about to change in ways not beneficial to students.
If your college student didn’t max out his/her available subsidized Stafford loans this current school year, it’s probably wise to do so. (With subsidized Stafford loans, the government pays the interest while the student is in school…with unsubsidized Stafford loans, the government does not.) Loans made before July 1, 2012, will be grandfathered in under the current rules, but with Stafford loans made on or after July 1…
The interest rate (currently 3.4% fixed for subsidized undergraduate loans) will increase to 6.8%.
Students will be charged interest during the “grace period”—the six months after the student leaves college but before repayment begins. This applies to loans dispersed between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2014.
A loan origination fee rebate of 0.5% will no longer be offered.
Loans to graduate/professional school students will be unsubsidized. Interest will accrue while grad students still are in school.
These changes affect only Stafford loans. Other federal loan programs—Perkins loans for undergraduate and graduate students, PLUS loans for parents of undergraduate students and GradPlus loans for graduate and professional school students—are not expected to change in the near future.