York Tech brings back resource to help students -- loans

York Technical College will offer federal Stafford loans this year after a 15-year hiatus.

Administrators will start implementing the loan program right away, but Kelli Dawkins, dean for students, said it likely will take until about the end of October for the school to be able to actually certify loans.

Because October is still fall semester, students who enroll in school now would still be eligible for a loan for this semester.

In the meantime, they can apply for tuition payment plans.

"I think that's a resource that will help meet student needs rather quickly," Dawkins said.

Classes start Monday.

York Tech President Greg Rutherford said he's often approached by people who are studying to enter a high-income profession but can't afford the classes they need to do that. A student loan could bridge the gap, he said.

"I was one of those students," he told the school's board of commissioners Wednesday night, referencing his own students loans. "I was glad that it was there."

The school stopped offering loans 15 years ago, in large part because there wasn't a great enough need.

Dawkins said she anticipates about 300 students will be affected by the new loan offerings.

The amount a student can borrow will depend on their enrollment status and whether they are dependent, for example, on their parents.

The most any student will be able to borrow is $7,500 their first year and $8,500 their second year.

Portions of the loans can be subsidized, which means the federal government pays all of the interest while a student is in school. Students also have the option to defer payments until sixth months after they graduate.

Federal Stafford loans have a fixed interest rate of 6.8 percent.

"A lot of students are going out and getting the money," said Angela Fowler, York Tech's financial resources director. "They're just paying more interest."

There are some restrictions on the loans.

Students must have good credit and undergo entrance counseling to get a loan. Loans will only be given for the amount needed, even if a student qualifies for more.

To make sure students understand the implications of not paying off a loan, they must maintain good academic standing, progress toward their degree and pass an online financial literacy course.

Step 1: Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid available at www.fafsa.ed.gov. This should be done as soon as possible and is required for any type of aid.

Step 2: Contact the York Tech financial resources office at 327-8005. They'll put you on a list of people to contact when the school can start approving loans.