Writing anything about student loans feels to me how I imagine yanking out eye teeth without some local anesthetic would feel. For the record, yours truly is staring down tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of government-backed student loans, borrowed so I could escape small-town journalism and flee to New York for a graduate degree that, depending on who you ask, may or may not have actually been worth the debt. It’s like a mortgage on my brain, I tell myself.
A mortgage I can’t refinance.
But a bachelor’s degree today is as necessary as a high school diploma was 20 or 30 years ago, and increasingly, you need a master’s degree to advance in many fields.
As such, banks are getting into the student loan game, too, and one of my contacts kindly forwarded me some information about what Citizens Bank has been doing on the student loan front.
To start, they’re expanding their TruFit student loan product to grad students. You have a choice of variable or fixed rates (some as low as 2.69 percent) at repayment terms of five, 10 or 15 years. If you’re studying to become a medical doctor, you can defer payments for up to eight years while in school and up to four years of residency and internship. Borrowers in other disciplines – law or business are two examples – can also defer for up to eight years while in school.
The bank has also rolled out a sort of “student loan report card.” The TruFit Student Loan Summary is an annual summary of the amount you’ve borrowed to date, your estimated monthly payments based on what you’ve borrowed thus far, and the date payments are scheduled to begin.
With all of these tools available, you’ll surely have a much more realistic estimate of how long you can expect to inhabit your childhood bedroom post-graduation.
Pardon my cynicism. Tell me what your bank is doing with student loans. Do you have special student loan products? Do you counsel students to avoid loans? Or do you subscribe to Michael Bloomberg’s school of thought on college?