Federal student loan interest rates to increase on July 1

By Colin Beresford | Nerdwallet

Federal student loans will be more expensive for the 2021-22 school year. Even so, borrowers will still see some of the lowest student loan interest rates of the past decade.

Interest rates on new federal undergraduate student loans will drop from 2.75% to 3.73% for 2021-22. Undergraduate, graduate and PLUS loan interest rates are determined by the results of the US Treasury Department’s 10-year note auction in May, according to New America, a policy think tank. public. The Treasury sells 10-year notes to raise funds.

PLUS loans, or direct parent loans for undergraduate students, are federal student loans that parents can receive to help pay for their education. Graduate students can also receive PLUS loans.

Interest rates on 10-year notes plunged last year as investors aggressively sought the safety of federal debt as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded. As a result, federal student loan interest rates fell to an all-time low in 2020.

Since the end of last year, investors have diverted their money from federal debt, pushing up interest rates, according to the Financial Times.

The interest rate on federal student loans is set by adding the interest rate on the May 10 to 10-year note, 1.68%, to the margins set by Congress. Lawmakers vote on the margins every year and while these have yet to be set for 2021-2022, the margins are not expected to change from last year.

For undergraduate student loans, 2.05 percentage points will be added to the interest rate. For other loans, 3.6 points will be added for graduate student loans and 4.6 points for PLUS loans. Here are the highest rates for each type of federal student loan:

  • Direct Undergraduate Loans: 3.73%.
  • Direct graduate loans: 5.28%.
  • PLUS loans: 6.28%.

Although student loan interest rates are increasing, rates are low compared to the past decade, when rates reached as high as 5.05% for undergraduates in 2018-19.

Federal student loan interest rates are fixed for the life of the loan, so loans taken out before July 1 will still have the 2.75% interest rate for that academic year. Currently, under the first COVID-19 relief bill, federal student loan interest rates are at 0% and are forborne until October 2021.

Impact of rising interest rates

Borrowing $ 5,500 in federal loans for 2021-2022 – the maximum loan amount for dependent undergraduates – for a standard 10-year term will cost $ 1,098 in interest with monthly payments of $ 55. That’s $ 3 more per month and $ 301 more in total interest compared to the same loan taken out at this year’s rates.

The increase in interest rates will have a greater impact on borrowers who take out PLUS loans given the higher interest rates on these loans. There are also no specific limits on the amount of a loan; rather, it is determined by the cost of attending school.

If a parent borrows around the average for a PLUS loan, or $ 16,500, for 10 years at 6.28% next year, the cost would be $ 186 per month and $ 5,762 in total interest. That’s $ 9 more per month and $ 969 more in total interest for the same loan this year.

Federal student loans vs private student loans

While federal student loan interest rates will rise next year, borrowers should still pursue and exhaust federal loans before turning to private lenders. Unlike private student loans, federal student loans do not require co-signers, and all borrowers receive the same interest rate.

Interest rates on private student loans are generally higher than those on federal loans and depend on the borrower’s credit history and the length of the term. Private student loans are not included in any student loan waiver programs and are excluded from the current suspension of federal student loan payments.

But students shouldn’t turn to loans until they’ve completed the free application for federal student aid – the FAFSA – and heard from their college about scholarships, grants, and other aid that doesn’t. do not need to be reimbursed.

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Colin Beresford writes for NerdWallet. E-mail: [email protected].


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