Virginia Student Loans
Take Some Time to Learn the Choices
Like many other states, the state of Virginia no longer makes any student loans directly. Virginia’s higher education authority is called the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV), and while it sets the rules pertaining to student financial aid that is provided by the state, it has delegated its student contact operations (such as receiving and processing applications) to Virginia’s colleges and universities.
Consequently, you can go directly through your school’s financial aid office to find information about student loans available to you, because the schools now have responsibility for evaluating your eligibility for all federal assistance. The following information summarizes what different Virginia schools are currently telling their students about obtaining federal and private loans.
Student Loans Available Through Virginia Schools
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia (UVa)’s loan page has a link to loan details which are periodically updated to reflect changes for each new academic year. UVa participates in the federal loan programs and delegates management of that lending to a loan servicing company called Campus Partners, which explains why you’ll see links to that company on UVa’s loans page.
At UVa, any application you submit for financial aid is automatically screened for Perkins, Nursing, and Direct Loans. Loans requiring separate forms are the Direct PLUS and Graduate PLUS loans, and any private loans. UVa provides a helpful chart comparing rates and terms for the federal loans it offers.
Need-based loans include Perkins, Nursing, and Direct Subsidized, and the loans that do not require financial need are the Direct Unsubsidized, Direct PLUS, and Graduate PLUS.
Virginia Western Community College
The loan page belonging to Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) also features the federal Direct Loan program, and provides a clear differentiation of the old Stafford Loan program, which required students to borrow from private banks, and the new Direct program, in which the U. S. Department of Education serves as the lender. VWCC focuses on details of how to apply for the various federal loans.
The first step in applying is completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and VWCC also notes that if you have filed a FAFSA in the previous year you can fill out a renewal application thereafter (which should be done using your original PIN, which is a number identifying you to the system). There are five eligibility criteria for Direct loans, meaning you must:
- Fill out a FAFSA or a FAFSA renewal application.
- Be a U. S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen.
- Have entered an eligible program leading to a degree or certificate, either by admission or by enrollment.
- Meet standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress, as defined by the college and the federal government.
- Not be in arrears with any former federal aid. Your federal student loans must not be in default and you must owe no money on any federal grants previously received.
VWCC also provides links to the different forms required for different loans, like the promissory notes.
Virginia Union University
Virginia Union University (VUU)’s loan page emphasizes the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan, and walks parents through the application process step by step. The page provides a physical address at the university to which parents mail a Federal Direct PLUS Loan Request Form. The university then forwards the form to the federal Direct Loan Servicing Center for a credit check, since Direct PLUS is a credit-based loan.
VUU receives an answer from the Servicing Center, and in the event parents don’t pass the credit check they are also notified. They have two options: appeal the denial, or find a creditworthy cosigner (which the government refers to as an endorser) to guarantee the loan. After approval has been secured, the parents must sign a Master Promissory Note.
Radford University suggests a different alternative called the State Student Loan (SSL) Program, intended for Virginia residents who can show financial need and attend school at least half-time. You may borrow as much as your expenditures for tuition and required fees, and your parents will need to cosign the promissory note.
Repayment on an SSL loan does not begin until four months after you are no longer in school half-time, including graduation or dropping your enrollment.
How to Find A Private Loan
A number of Virginia universities offer advice on various private lenders. If you’re looking for a loan to cover school expenses remaining after scholarships, grants, and federal loans have been used, recommendations from your school would be a good place to begin your search. Examples of schools that provide information about using private lenders, or even lists of private lenders, on their websites include Radford, Virginia Highlands Community College, VUU, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia, Mary Baldwin College, and the University of Richmond.