Skip to main content

Search Bar Icon Close Menu

Understanding your loan choices

Before applying for student loans, be sure to compare the different options available to you. Students completing the FAFSA will automatically be reviewed for federal grant eligibility in addition to Stafford Loan eligibility. Here is a standardized comparison of the different types of educational loans that students can use at Columbia College while pursuing higher education goals.

  • Subsidized:Federal Stafford loan for undergraduate students that requires a student meet certain need criteria. The federal government pays interest on this loan while a student attends school at least half time or during a deferment.
  • Unsubsidized: Federal Stafford loan for undergraduate and graduate students. The student is responsible for paying interest on these loans while in school or can opt to have the interest accrue into the principal balance of the loans.
  • Graduate PLUS: Federal credit-based* loan for graduate students. Graduate students can apply for this fixed interest rate loan.
  • Parent PLUS: Federal credit based* loan for parents of dependent students. Parents of dependent students can apply for this fixed interest rate loan.
  • Private, credit-based loans: Non-federal loans offered by a variety of private lenders. Benefits, qualification, and rates vary by lender. Interest rates on private loans are typically higher than that of federal student loans.

Adverse credit history defined for Direct Plus Loans

*Effective March 29th, 2015, new federal regulations will change the standard for determining adverse credit history and how this will impact eligibility for a Direct Plus loan for both students and parents. Adverse credit history has be redefined for an applicant (student or parent) as:

  • bankruptcy, foreclosure, tax lien, or default
  • one or more debts greater than $2,085 that are 90 or more days delinquent, in collections or have been charged off during the two years preceding the date of the applicant's credit report
  • special loan counseling will be required for any Plus loan applicant who previously had an adverse credit history, but now qualifies for a Plus loan through reconsideration, obtaining an endorser, or extenuating circumstances
  • credit checks will remain valid for 180 days

Repayment options and loan forgiveness

Loan Type Grace Period Income Based Repayment Income Contingent Repayment Pay as you Earn Public Loan Forgiveness
Direct Stafford Sub Loan 6 months
Direct Stafford Unsub Loan 6 months
Direct Grad Plus Loan  
Parent Plus Loan

Private Loans Varies


Loan fees and interest

Loan Borrower Fees Interest Rate Interest Accrual Credit Check
Direct Stafford Sub Loan Undergrad 1.073% 4.66%
Direct Stafford Unsub Loan Undergrad 1.073% 4.66%

Direct Stafford Unsub Loan Graduate 1.073% 6.21%

Direct Grad Plus Loan Graduate 4.292% 7.21%

Parent Plus Loan Parent 4.292% 7.21%

Private Loans Varies Varies Varies, based on credit check


Request info