Updated: Apr 17
North Carolina is home to some of the best private and public universities in the entire world. And it benefits the state and local economy in numerous ways. It has allowed the Raleigh/Durham area to become one of the nation's largest technology hubs for example.
Of course, the flip side to this is that there are tens of thousands of Americans in this area with student loan debt, and lots of it. We've written about student loan forgiveness in North Carolina before. But for those that are still looking to finance an education, you're probably wondering what your best options are for flexible student loan programs across the state.
If this sounds like you, you're going to want to consider the NC Assist Loan program.
What are NC Assist Loans?
NC Assist Loans are a private student loan program carrying no origination, application, prepayment penalty, or any other type of extraneous fees. Managed by the College Foundation, Inc, they carry competitive and fixed interest rates (though they carry higher interest rates than most federal loan programs), and also offer 0.25% interest rate reductions when you make your payments on auto-pay.
Other features of the program include:
You can borrow enough money to cover your total cost of attendance (minus any other aid you receive).
Monthly chances to win $1,000 scholarships
Allowable postponement of your loans while in college
The NC Assist program offers both parent and student loans and can be used at both in-state and out-of-state institutions.
1. NC Student Assist Loan
Let's start with the loans for students, both undergraduate and graduate. To be eligible for the program, you'll need to:
Be a North Carolina resident or student from outside the state, so long as you're attending a Title IV accredited institution within the state
Be at least 17 years old
Be a United States citizen
Be deemed as "credit-worthy," or have a co-signer that is
Have been accepted or enrolled at a qualifying college/university at least half-time
And while you can borrow up to your cost of attendance, the most that you can borrow is $120,000 if an undergraduate student and $200,000 as a graduate student. You can also borrow as little as $1,000.
NC Student Assist repayment options
When it comes to repaying your NC Student Assist loans, you'll have a 10-year standard repayment period, with a $50 minimum monthly payment. Much like your federal loans, you will have a six-month grace period after you graduate, or transition your status to less than a half-time student.
But in case you're interested, you also have the option to pay accrued interest while in college and during your grace period.
2. NC Parent Assist Loan
As promised, parents also have the option to take out loans through NC Assist. Parent loans are available to "North Carolina residents of students attending any eligible in-state or out-of-state school, or out-of-state parents of students who are attending an eligible North Carolina school."
The program operates much like the student program, complete with:
No extraneous fees
Fixed 6.25% interest rates (lower than the Federal Parent PLUS rate)
A 0.25% interest rate reduction for making your payments on auto-pay
The same borrowing limit of $120,000
And while your repayment works similarly, accrued interest will capitalize when your funds are disbursed. Additionally, your first payment will be due on the first 10th of the month that occurs a minimum of 45 days after your loan has been completely disbursed.
Applying for NC Assist
Applying for NC Assist is really easy to do! Before you start the application, you'll want to make sure that you have the following information available:
Personally identifiable information such as your name, social security number, driver's license number, etc.
Your requested loan amount, financial aid received, and total cost of attendance
Co-signer information, if applying with one
After you've gathered all of this information, you are ready to apply. Use the below links to navigate to the correct program.
You'll need to create an account, and then you'll be able to access your application materials.
Who should consider NC Assist Loans?
NC Assist Loans may be right for the following types of people:
Parents taking out loans: I'll be honest - I am not a huge fan of parents taking out student loans to help finance their children's educations. But if you are going to take out loans, the NC Assist program may be a good option for you, since interest rates tend to be lower than the Federal Parent PLUS program.
Those without other financial aid options: You should always pursue grants and scholarships before you take on any student loans. And when you do need to take loans, you'll generally want to take federal loans before you take on any private debt. With this in mind, NC Assist Loans may be a good fit for those that need to take on private loans, since they generally carry more flexibility than other private loans.
Refinance your private student loans in NC
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention refinancing as an option to deal with your already existing private loans. Many of our readers undoubtedly wonder if refinancing is worth it.
If you're unsure, the easiest place for you to start is by checking out Splash Financial. Splash is what is known as a student loan marketplace, meaning that they have a network of participating lenders and will automatically find you the lowest interest rate.
In fact, Splash can quote you an interest rate in less than three minutes without negatively impacting your credit score.
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