Default rate on federal loans low for AACC students

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Photo by Igal Ness on Unsplash

AACC students’ default rate was the second lowest among the 14 Maryland community colleges in the study.

Johannes Haasbroek, Editor-in-Chief

AACC students default on federal student loans less often than their peers at most other Maryland community colleges, according to an October study. 

AACC’s default rate7.80%—was the second lowest among the 14 Maryland community colleges in the survey. Carroll Community College had the lowest, at 6.80%, and Garret College the highest, at 18.20% 

Tara Carew, AACC’s director of financial aid, said student default rates have been decreasing on a national level over the last few years. 

“We see [the report’s results] as very exciting news, she said. “It means that fewer students are defaulting on their student loans.”  

LendEDU, a private website that helps students research college loans, compared the student default rates at 4,398 colleges and universities with fiscal year 2017 data from the U.S. Department of Education.    

The study’s author, LendEDU Director of Communications Mike Brown, warned students that defaulting on loans will damage their credit scores and could affect their tax refunds and Social Security benefits. 

My advice for students would be to seriously research financial aid and student loan debt data at each school they are thinking about applying to,” he said. “Then, apply for as many scholarships and grants as possible before turning to student loans. 

Carew said the college works with a company called Loan Science to help prevent students from defaulting on loans. 

“They actually reach out to students who … maybe … missed one payment or they’ve missed two payments and they try to work with them to put them into a repayment plan that better fits their particular situation,” Carew explained.  

Students should also make use of the Federal Student Aid website to apply for and keep track of their loans, Carew said. 

Carew said firsttime student borrowers must complete entrance counseling when applying on the website. This help students understand what their obligations when they take out a loan, she explained.  

Additionally, student borrowers who graduate or take a semester off must also complete exit counseling review their repayment responsibilities and repayment schedules, Carew said 

Carew advised students to always be aware of the amount of their loan balances. 

“If you’re in school for four or five years … [studying] part time and also working part time, the total loan balance can creep up on you,” she explained. You always want to make sure you have your finger on exactly how much you’ve borrowed. 

Carew said students should only borrow exactly what they need. 

If you find that halfway through the term or halfway through the year something unexpected has come up, you can always come back and borrow more, she explained.