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Archive for Sunday, June 25, 2006

Money tip

June 25, 2006

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Don't let fixed rates on student loans fool you into thinking you don't have to shop around.

Starting next month the two biggest federal college loan programs, Stafford and PLUS, will come with fixed interest rates instead of variable ones.

For Stafford loans it will be 6.8 percent and for PLUS loans 8.5 percent. Lenders can't go higher but they can go lower and, thanks to fierce competition for your business, many are.

Many lenders, including the U.S. Department of Education itself, will reduce your interest rate by 0.25 percent if you automatically debit your loan payments from a bank account.

Sallie Mae, one of the biggest student loan providers, will provide a Stafford loan without fees and will chop the rate on a graduate PLUS loan by 1.75 percent if you make enough consecutive on-time payments.

You even can earn a 3 percent reduction of the original principal after 48 months of on-time payments.

My Rich Uncle, owned by New York-based MRU Holdings, is offering rates of 5.8 percent on Stafford loans and 6.75 percent on PLUS loans with no conditions.

If you make 48 on-time payments in a row, they will also reduce your outstanding balance by the same percentage as your origination fee.

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