Friday, August 01, 2008

Community College Student Loan Rates

As college tuition rates have increased, many two-year college students have been forced to take out loans. Because about one-quarter of two-year colleges do not participate in the federal loan program, these students are forced to take out private loans, which are riskier and more expensive; work while attending school; use credit cards; or, drop out of school. Of those students who completed a community college degree in 2003-04, 33% had student loans; the average amount was $9,061, according to an analysis of federal data by the Project on Student Debt.

The American Association of Community Colleges, which represents 1,200 two-year institutions, claims that colleges do not participate in the federal loan program due to concern for the consequences of debt and default for students, especially those who take remedial classes, for whom dropout and default rates are higher. In addition, colleges participating in the program could be barred from other federal aid programs if too many of their students default. This is especially concerning for schools with a large number of low-income students.