Washington D.C. Student Loans
Loans for District of Columbia College Students
The Office of Post-Secondary Education and Research Assistance (OPERA) serves as the guaranty agency for the District of Columbia as well as a general clearinghouse to state-sanctioned college assistance programs, like the DC College Access Program (DC-CAP). A guarantor, such as OPERA, ensures that your Federal Family Education Loan Program loans are repaid to your lender. They “guarantee” that even if you are unable to pay your loans, the lenders will still collect their money sometime in the future. The DC-CAP is a non-profit organization that works with the District of Columbia School System to provide financial assistance to students who would otherwise never have the opportunity to attend college.
The first step is to always seek Federal Student Loans for support. They provide the largest sums and lowest interest rates. After you have received aid from them, then you should look toward scholarships and private grants. But be careful! There are many private grants which seem good at first, but turn out to leave you with an insurmountable amount of debt.
When Federal Loans Fall Short
Once you receive your federal loans like the Stafford Loan, then you are able to really see the financial gap that exists between what you have and what you need for college. College tuition costs have been rising steadily over the last couple of decades making it more difficult for those from low-income families to attend. Luckily, there have been all sorts of student savings programs, grants and scholarships, and alternative loans through a wide variety of lenders that have been spawned.
You can pretty much take your pick of student loan providers when it comes to alternative student loans, but DC-CAP does offer a direct link to Sallie Mae, one of the biggest names in college financial aid.
Alternative loans are private, credit-based financial products that typically offer lower interest rates to attract students. These types of loans can be paid back in full between 10 and 20 years. When you apply for an alternative loan you must submit to a credit check. If you have no or bad credit, find a credit-worthy co-borrower.
Find Alternative Funds—You Have Choices
Remember if you are only using federal loans then you’re missing the boat. Through DC-CAP, students have immediate access to some very valuable state-funded grant programs, such as the DC-Last Dollar Award and the Tuition Assistance Grant program. These types of awards are aimed at lower income families in the Washington D.C. area.
If you are a high school graduate from a DC Public High School you may be eligible for the DC-CAP Last Dollar Award. It provides funds of $2000 per year to any college or university in the country. The D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program (TAG) will give you up to $10,000 per year for up to 5 years of academic study.To apply for these awards simply complete the FAFSA application and the DC-CAP Authorization Form. Also, it is required that the student have minimum GPA of 2.0