A Guide to Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

A Guide to Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans – SmartAsset

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As you explore funding options for higher education, you’ll come across many different ways to pay for school. You can try your hand at scholarships and grants, but you may also need to secure federal student loans. Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for a subsidized loan or an unsubsidized loan. Here’s the breakdown of subsidized and unsubsidized loans, along with how to get each of them.

Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized Loans

In name, there’s only a two-letter difference. But in operation, subsidized and unsubsidized loans  – sometimes referred to as Stafford loans – aren’t quite the same.

A subsidized loan is available to undergraduate students who prove financial need and are enrolled in school at least part-time. After students or parents of the students fill out the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA), the school will determine how much money can be borrowed. Unfortunately, you can’t borrow more than you need.

One major difference of a subsidized loan vs. an unsubsidized loan is that the U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on a subsidized loan while the student is in school, for the first six months after graduating and during a deferment period (if the student chooses to defer the loan). For example, if your subsidized loan is $5,000 at the start of your college education, it’ll still be $5,000 when you begin paying it off after graduation because the government paid the interest on it while you were in school. The same may not be true for an unsubsidized loan.

An unsubsidized loan is available to both undergraduate and graduate students, and isn’t based on financial need. This means anyone who applies for one can get it. Like subsidized loans, students or their parents are required to fill out the FAFSA in order to determine how much can be borrowed. However, unlike subsidized loans, the size of the unsubsidized loan isn’t strictly based on financial need, so more money can be borrowed.

For an unsubsidized loan, students are responsible for paying the interest while in school, regardless of enrollment, as well as during deferment or forbearance periods. If you choose not to pay your interest during these times, the interest will continue to accrue, which means that your monthly payments could be more costly when you’re ready to pay them.

Both types of loans have interest rates that are set by the government and both come with a fee. Each one offers some of the easiest repayment options compared to private student loans, too. Students are eligible to borrow these loans for 150% of the length of the educational program they’re enrolled in. For example, if you attend a four-year university, you can borrow these loans for up to six years.

Pros and Cons

Both types of loans have pros and cons. Depending on your financial situation and education, one may be a better fit than the other. Even if you qualify for a subsidized loan, it’s important to understand what that means for your situation before borrowing that money.

Pros of Subsidized Loans

  • The student is not required to pay interest on the loan until after the six-month grace period after graduation.
  • The loan may be great for students who can’t afford the tuition and don’t have enough money from grants or scholarships to afford college costs.

Cons of Subsidized Loans

  • Students are limited in how much they can borrow. In the first year, you’re only allowed to borrow $3,500 in subsidized loans. After that, you can only borrow $4,500 the second year and $5,500 for years three and four. The total aggregate loan amount is limited to $23,000. This might cause you to take out additional loans to cover other costs.
  • Subsidized loans are only available for undergraduate students. Graduate students – even those who show financial need – don’t qualify.

If you don’t qualify for a subsidized loan, you may still be eligible for an unsubsidized loan.

Pros of Unsubsidized Loans

  • They are available to both undergraduate and graduate students who need to borrow money for school.
  • The amount you can borrow isn’t based on financial need.
  • Students are able to borrow more money than subsidized loans. The total aggregate loan amount is limited to $31,000 for undergraduate students considered dependents and whose parents don’t qualify for direct PLUS loans. Undergraduate independent students may be allowed to borrow up to $57,500, while graduate students may be allowed to borrow up to $138,500.

Cons of Unsubsidized Loans

  • Interest adds up — and you could be on the hook for it — while you’re in school. Once you start paying back the unsubsidized loan, payments may be more expensive than those for a subsidized loan because of the accrued interest.

How to Secure Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

If you’re looking to get loans to pay for a college education, direct subsidized or unsubsidized loans might be your best option.

To apply for a subsidized or unsubsidized loan, you’ll need to complete the FAFSA. The form will ask you for important financial information based on your family’s income. From there, your college or university will use your FAFSA to determine the amount of student aid for which you’re eligible. Be mindful of the FAFSA deadline, as well additional deadlines set by your state for applying for state and institutional financial aid.

After the amount is decided, you’ll receive a financial aid package that details your expected family contribution and how much financial help you’ll get from the government. Your letter will include the amount of money you’ll receive in grants, as well as all types of loans you could secure. If you’re ready to accept the federal aid offered, you’ll need to submit a Mastery Promissory Note (MPN). This is a legal document that states your promise to pay back your loans in full, including any fees and accrued interest, to the U.S. Department of Education. 

The Bottom Line

Both subsidized and unsubsidized loans may be good financial resources for upcoming college students who need help paying for school. Both loans tend to have lower interest rates than private student loans, as well as easier repayment terms. 

Keep in mind that these are still loans and they will need to be paid back. If you avoid paying your student loans, you could end up in default or with a delinquent status, and your credit score could be damaged. Once you’re done with your college or graduate school education, stay responsible with your student loan repayment and you’ll be on the path to a successful financial future.

Tips for Managing Student Loan Debt

  • If you’re struggling to manage student loan debt, consider working with a financial advisor. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Paying off student loans can be overwhelming. One way to make it easier is by refinancing them into one lower monthly payment, if you can. Check out the different student loan refinance rates that are available to you now.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/baona, ©iStock.com/urbazon, ©iStock.com/designer491

Dori Zinn Dori Zinn has been covering personal finance for nearly a decade. Her writing has appeared in Wirecutter, Quartz, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Huffington Post and other publications. She previously worked as a staff writer at Student Loan Hero. Zinn is a past president of the Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and won the national organization’s “Chapter of the Year” award two years in a row while she was head of the chapter. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University and currently lives in South Florida.
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Source: smartasset.com

ARM financing inches up as credit loosens ahead of spring buying

Lenders in January reversed a slight year-end contraction in underwriting with an expanded product set that included more adjustable-rate mortgages taken out by borrowers with lower credit scores.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s credit availability index last month ticked up 2.5 points to 124.6 from 122.1, but that number was down markedly from 181.9 a year ago.

The index’s movement suggests that lenders want to accommodate consumers buying homes amid forecasts of diminished refinancing, but they aren’t yet ready to lend as freely as they did before the pandemic.

“Even with overall credit availability picking up in three of the past four months, credit supply is still at its tightest level since 2014,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, in a press release.

While the ARM market share remains very small, an uptick for this loan type may indicate that some borrowers are looking for slightly lower initial rates prior to an adjustment period. The fact that there’s been a slight dip in the credit score allowable suggests lenders are looking to do more to address affordability considerations as well.

The jumbo component of the index rose by 2.2% week-over-week but there was an even larger increase — 7.7% — among loans within Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s conforming limits, which vary by location but generally require loans to be no larger than $548,250.

Underwriting of government-insured loans that generally serve the needs of lower-income borrowers tightened 0.1%, suggesting lenders are somewhat cautious about this sector. The rate at which borrowers have been putting payments on hold for coronavirus-related contingencies has been higher in the government market than the conforming market. Government loans had a 7.46% forbearance rate, compared to a 3.07% for conforming mortgages, in the MBA’s latest weekly survey.

The MCAI is based on data from the widely-used Ellie Mae mortgage origination system owned by Intercontinental Exchange. The index’s baseline of 100 represents underwriting conditions in March 2012, which credit was relatively tight.

Source: nationalmortgagenews.com

Refinance soon to avoid the FHFA adverse market refinance fee

FHFA fee starts on December 1, but rates will go up before that

Starting on December 1, a new “Adverse Market Refinance Fee” will be imposed on most conventional refinances.

But homeowners won’t pay the new fee at closing.

Instead, lenders will cover it by raising refinance rates — likely by as much as 0.125% to 0.25% on average.

To avoid higher rates, you’ll want to refinance before the fee takes effect.

But there’s a catch: to avoid FHFA’s fee, your refinance loan needs to be closed and delivered to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before December 1.

Homeowners who want the lowest-possible refinance rate should apply 2-3 months before December 1 — which is pretty much right now.

Find and a low refinance rate now (Feb 9th, 2021)

What is the Adverse Market Refinance Fee?

On August 12, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced they would assess a new fee on all conventional refinance loans.

The fee is equal to 0.5% of the loan amount.

That means if you had a $200,000 refinance, the new fee would amount to an additional cost of $1,000.

Refinances take a long time to close and deliver, so a September 1 start date meant the fee was already being added to refinances in process.

Originally, the fee was meant to start on September first — meaning it would have applied to all loans not yet delivered to Fannie or Freddie by that date.

But because refinances take a long time to close and deliver, the fee effectively started being added to loans that were already in process prior to September 1.

However, Fannie and Freddie have since changed the rules (and delayed the start date for the fee) in response to a strong industry backlash against it.

Changes to the FHFA refinance fee

On August 25th, FHFA announced two changes to the new refinance fee.

  • The start date moved from September 1 to December 1
  • The new charge will not apply to loan amounts below $125,000, or to HomeReady and Home Possible loans

This is good news for borrowers. It means rates may stay a little lower, a little longer.

It also means that borrowers who were already in the process of refinancing might not see their rates go up as a result of the fee.

In fact, loans currently in the pipeline might have their loan costs re-adjusted in borrowers’ favor, notes Matthew Graham of Mortgage News Daily.

But each lender will handle its own loans differently, so make sure you talk to your mortgage company if you were in the process of refinancing.

Also, note that loans must be delivered to Fannie or Freddie before December 1 to avoid the fee.

That means the refinance will have to close much earlier (in October or early November), so time your refinance accordingly.

Find and lock a low refinance rate (Feb 9th, 2021)

The new fee could push refinance rates up by 0.125% or more

When the new fee does go into effect, borrowers won’t pay it directly.

Instead, it’s likely to be charged to borrowers in the form of higher rates.

“The fee is 50bps [0.50%] in terms of PRICE, and that equates to roughly 0.125% in terms of interest rate,” says Graham.

Though others have estimated that refinance rates could rise as much as 0.375% on average when the fee goes into effect.

Either way, that’s a significant difference in refinance rates for borrowers.

For those who planned to refinance in the near future, it makes sense to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

The earlier you start your refinance, the better your odds of closing and having the loan delivered to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before the fee once again goes into effect.

Find a low refinance rate today (Feb 9th, 2021)

Will all refinances be affected by the new fee?

The Adverse Market Refinance Fee will only apply to refinance loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In other words, it applies to ‘conventional’ refinance loans.

But other types of mortgages could be affected indirectly.

In fact, the initial announcement set off higher rates for both purchase and refinancing loans, including some not intended for sale to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Those who had not locked in rates suddenly faced higher interest costs.

So in the coming months, it seems safe to assume that conventional refinances won’t be the only type affected by rising rates.

No refinance fee on loans under $125,000

One piece of good news from Fannie and Freddie’s most recent announcement is that the refinance fee won’t be charged on loans under $125,000.

Note, that’s based on the loan balance — not the home’s value.

So if your home is worth significantly more than $125,000, but you’ve paid down a lot of the balance, you might end up refinancing less than $125K and the fee won’t affect you.

In addition, the fee won’t be charged to those refinancing a Freddie Mac Home Possible loan or Fannie Mae HomeReady loan.

Why was a new fee developed?

We have faced the COVID-19 economy for months. Some 55 million people have filed for unemployment, and lenders have had to adjust many of their policies to account for the added uncertainty.

But did something new happen to justify this extra fee?

According to Freddie Mac, the new fee was necessary “as a result of risk management and loss forecasting precipitated by COVID-19 related economic and market uncertainty.”

Fannie Mae explained that it was adding the fee “in light of market and economic uncertainty resulting in higher risk and costs.”

But on August 25th, a different answer emerged.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) — the regulator that runs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the new money was “necessary to cover projected COVID-19 losses of at least $6 billion at the Enterprises.”

“Specifically,” says FHFA, “the actions taken by the Enterprises during the pandemic to protect renters and borrowers are conservatively projected to cost the Enterprises at least $6 billion and could be higher depending on the path of the economic recovery.”

This refers to relief packages passed during COVID-19, which allowed borrowers to skip mortgage payments without penalty and prevented lenders from foreclosing on any delinquent loans.

But this amount is a fraction of the $109.5 billion in profits Fannie and Freddie have added to government coffers, even after paying back bailout funds they received during the 2008 housing crisis, according to ProPublica.

Using a small percentage of past years’ profits to help homeowners through a worldwide pandemic seems like a good idea to us, anyway.

Will Congress stop the new fee before it goes into effect?

The Adverse Market Refinance fee is now set to start after the November election.

So, could the results of the election impact whether or not the fee actually goes into effect?

That’s not certain. Both Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, and Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Chair of the Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance, oppose the new charge.

If opposition to the fee is strong enough, there could potentially be an investigation into the fee and an attempt to stop it. But there’s no guarantee this will happen.

What to do if you want to refinance

Rates are still sitting near record lows — below 3% in many cases. This is basically unheard of in the mortgage world.

Rates are likely to go up as the new refinance fee start date nears. But that’s just one of the many, many factors that can impact mortgage and refinance rates.

If the economy starts to see a real recovery any time soon, rates could start going up regardless of what happens with the refinance fee. On the flip side, they’re not likely to go much lower than they are now.

So for borrowers hoping to refinance at record-low rates, it makes sense to get started sooner rather than later.

Verify your new rate (Feb 9th, 2021)

Source: themortgagereports.com

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Source: mortgagedaily.com

Mortgage applications dip as rates climb

The seesaw nature of mortgage applications continued for the week ending Feb. 5, as applications decreased 4.1% from the prior week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Applications were up 8.5% the week ending Jan. 29 – breaking a two-week stretch of decreases – before falling again last week.

Mortgage rates have increased in four of the six weeks of 2021, according to Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, which could be causing the dip in applications.

“Jumbo rates [were] the only loan type that saw a decline last week,” Kan said. “Despite some weekly volatility, Treasury rates have been driven higher by expectations of faster economic growth as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues.”

The refinance index decreased 4% from the previous week but was still 46% higher year-over-year. The seasonally adjusted purchase index also decreased from one week earlier – down 5% – though the unadjusted purchase Index increased 2% compared with the prior week and was 17% higher than the same week in 2020.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased to 2.96% – a high not seen since November 2020, Kan said. This has led to an uptick in refinancing, he said, as borrowers race to lock in a rate below 3%.

“Government refinance applications did buck the trend and increase, and overall activity was still 46% higher than a year ago,” he said. “Demand for refinances is still very strong this winter. Homebuyers are still very active.”

The higher-priced segment of the market continues to perform well, Kan said, with the average purchase loan sizes increasing to a survey-high of $402,200.

The FHA share of total mortgage applications increased to 9.5% from 9.1% the week prior. The VA share of total mortgage applications increased to 13.3% from 12.1% the week prior.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of this week’s mortgage application data:

  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($548,250 or less) increased to 2.96% from 2.92%
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $548,250) decreased to 3.11% from 3.12% – the third week in a row of decreases
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 2.97% from 2.94%
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 2.50% from 2.44%
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs increased to 2.92% from 2.88%

Source: housingwire.com

Mortgage rates spike to highest levels in nearly two months – The Washington Post

Freddie Mac, the federally chartered mortgage investor, aggregates rates from about 80 lenders nationwide to come up with weekly national average mortgage rates. It uses rates for high-quality borrowers with strong credit scores and large down payments. These rates are not available to every borrower.

Because the survey is based on home purchase mortgages, rates for refinances may be different. This is especially true because the price adjustment for refinance transactions took effect in December. The adjustment is 0.5 percent of the loan amount (e.g., it is $1,500 on a $300,000 loan) and applies to all Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac refinances.

The 15-year fixed-rate average also moved higher, to 2.23 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 2.16 percent a week ago and 3.09 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average grew to 3.12 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.75 percent a week ago and 3.39 percent a year ago.

“Mortgage rates headed higher this week, continuing the strong upward trend that followed last week’s election results” in the Georgia Senate race, said Matthew Speakman, a Zillow economist. “The upward movements over the past couple weeks were a long-awaited deviation from the glacial, downward trend that rates have followed for the past few months. Rates have risen in the past week at their fastest pace since the spring and recently touched their highest level since mid-November.”

Until it fell back Wednesday, the 10-year Treasury yield had been on a steady climb as fears of rising inflation pushed long-term bond yields higher. By Tuesday, the yield had reached 1.15 percent, the highest it has been since March. But then it retreated to 1.1 percent on Wednesday on weakened inflation concerns. Mortgage rates typically follow the same path as the 10-year Treasury yield but have done so less lately.

“After several days of the sharpest increases in rates in months, Treasury and MBS markets should calm,” said Dick Lepre, senior loan officer at RPM Mortgage. “One-party control of D.C. triggered belief that fiscal stimulus would increase and lead to inflation. Once we have a new occupant in the White House, the discussion is likely to turn to tax increases to address the deficit. Markets will then ponder the effects of those and volatility will increase as uncertainty increases. The next six months will be trying.”

Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that nearly half the experts it surveyed predicted rates will rise in the coming week. More than a third expected them to fall. Elizabeth Rose, sales manager at AmCap Mortgage in Dallas, anticipates rates will move higher.

“Inflation concerns and added supply are weighing heavily on the bond market, setting the stage for higher rates,” she said. “Inflation is the enemy of mortgage bonds and added supply doesn’t help matters any.”

Meanwhile, the dip in mortgage rates to start the year caused applications to soar last week to their highest level in 10 months. According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — increased 16.7 percent from a week earlier to its highest level since March. The purchase index climbed 8 percent from the previous week and was 10 percent higher than a year ago. The refinance index jumped 20 percent and was 93 percent higher than a year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 74.8 percent of applications.

“The mortgage market got off to a fast start in the first full week of 2021, with both applications to refinance and buy a home solidly increasing on a weekly and annual basis,” said Bob Broeksmit, MBA president and chief executive. “With mortgage rates well below 3 percent but expected to rise slowly this year, many homeowners are acting now. Refinancing … represented three-quarters of all applications.”

The MBA also released its mortgage credit availability index (MCAI) that showed credit availability decreased in December. The MCAI slid 0.1 percent to 122.1 last month. A decrease in the MCAI indicates lending standards are tightening, while an increase signals they are loosening.

“Credit availability in December remained essentially unchanged, with an increase in government credit offset by a decrease in conventional credit,” Joel Kan, an MBA economist, said in a statement. “The decline in conventional credit availability was the first in three months and was driven by fewer ARM offerings. ARM loans have increasingly seen a smaller share of the market, given the historically low rates for fixed-rate mortgages. Availability for government loans and jumbo loans [has] increased for four months and three months in a row, respectively.”

Source: washingtonpost.com

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