Published June 27, 2017
Student debt is an issue that plagues millions of Americans. Pursuing a college education and forging a life for you and your family should be something to celebrate, but for the majority of the country, debilitating student debt serves as a punishment for being educated. While most college students are forced to take out government loans to cover the costs of being educated, some colleges are taking an alternative route.
No More Loans
Tribal colleges in the United States have dissolved their federal student loan programs because of how hard they are for some Native students to repay. Tribal colleges are infamous for having some of the highest student loan defaults in the country. Having this ominous title has brought with it the threat of fines from the federal government, which would make it hard for these colleges to operate. To avoid the fines, all but three US Tribal colleges have made the controversial decision to do away with their federal student loan programs.
College officials claim that this decision will benefit Native American students, who are often unable to repay their government loans due to generational poverty. Many students come from families who live well below the poverty line and are often the first generation to be college educated. Just like the average non-Native student, many Native students have no credit history or very little credit experience when they enter college. This lack of experience coupled with the inability to pay back their loans is a recipe for disaster that many Native students have fallen into.
Moving Forward Post Student Loans
So, what comes next for Native students who rely on federal loans to cover miscellaneous expenses like housing, food, and textbooks? Many Tribal colleges are now offering food and gas vouchers to offset these costs and students who receive Pell Grants may be able to use a portion of their grant money towards textbooks. In addition, thousands of scholarships available to Native American students can be found online. For example, MONEYBANKER offers a $1,000 scholarship to talented students of Marketing, Business, IT, Finance or Communication.
Access to Loans for Native Students
What happens if you absolutely need to take out a loan? There are hundreds of loan companies popping up all over the Internet every day, and for those with poor or non-existent credit, choosing a non-predatory company can be tricky. Comparison sites allow users to browse hundreds of loan companies to choose one with policies that work with their lifestyle.
Paying it Back
If you have received student loans under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Loan for short) and are Native American, you could be eligible for the Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. To be eligible for this program, you must make 120 on time payments, work 30 hours or more per week, and hold a position in the public service sector. Former students are able to apply for this program after paying back their student loans on time for 10 years.
The Post Loan Future for Native Students
The decision of Tribal colleges to bow out of federal loan programs is one that will forever change the landscape of student loans and how Native American students fund their education. Whether or not these colleges prove successful will determine whether or not we see this trend continue and whether we will see more state universities removing themselves from government loan programs. Whether or not this decision will,
This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.