Arkansas residents owe more than $10.8 billion in debt, with the average Arkansas college borrower carrying a balance of a little less than $27,000 — slightly less than the national average. Hundreds of thousands of Arkansas residents are actively working to manage their student loans.
For some, the state provides financial assistance that makes paying off their loans a faster option.
Many states run repayment assistance programs for professionals whose services are in need in particular geographic areas. In Arkansas, teachers who agree to work in specific subject matter fields or geographic locations may be eligible to receive financial assistance through the State Teacher Education Program (STEP).
Licensed Arkansas teachers may receive up to $3,000 per year for teaching in:
The program is capped at three years.
Minority teachers meeting either of the above criteria are eligible to receive an additional $1,000 per year.
To participate in STEP, a teacher must:
Applicants must re-apply each year, for no more than three years.
Only federal loans are eligible for the STEP program.
The annual application deadline is June 1st. To apply, visit the Arkansas Department of Education website for more information.
If you're not a teacher, don't fret. There are many other ways to manage your student loan debt that could work for you.
Let's check out a few of them.
When you refinance your student loans with a private lender, you can: (1) reduce your monthly payment and (2) decrease the amount you'll pay over the life of the loan. This double whammy for your bank account is possible because when you refinance, you don't just change your repayment term or reallocate your payments — you lower your interest rate.
Dropping even a point from your interest rate could save you thousands of dollars. In fact, the average borrower who refinances can lower their payment by $258 per month or save more than $16,000 over the life of their loan.
If Arkansas's forgiveness program doesn't apply to you, you may be able to seek forgiveness for your student loans through the federal government. Check out our ultimate list of grants to pay off your student loans to find a program that could benefit you.
The most well-known federal forgiveness option is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Participants can get their student loans discharged after 10 years working for an eligible non-profit organization or government agency. Because this program focuses on public service rather than specific industries, any career path could be eligible as long as it involves public service.
Applying for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan could save you money each month, and if you have federal loans, you're eligible. Monthly payments under an IDR plan are capped at an amount between 10% and 20% of your discretionary income.
Before you apply, use our calculator to determine what your payments would be under an income-based repayment plan — sometimes getting on an IDR plan could actually increase your payments, depending on your income.
If the Arkansas forgiveness programs aren't in your future, find out how much you could save by refinancing your student loans.
Works with 275+ not-for-profit community lenders for higher approval chances
LendKey operates student loan programs for over 275 not-for-profit and community lenders across the country. By partnering with these lenders, LendKey is able to give consumers direct access to the best rates available from the most borrower friendly institutions. As the servicer of all loans obtained through its platform, you can rest easy knowing your personal information will be safe and that the best customer service team will be ready to answer your questions from application until your final payment.
Offers unemployment protection and career/coaching/networking
SoFi, which stands for “Social Finance,” was created by a group of Stanford business students who found themselves with a mountain of debt after graduation. They set out to change the student loan industry and help borrowers like themselves to get lower interest rates. SoFi has some of the lowest interest rates and, unlike the other lenders we reviewed, it has no maximum amount you can finance. However, Nevada residents can’t currently refinance with SoFi. Minimum loan balances are higher in Arizona, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania due to state laws. Additional state restrictions may apply.
For every loan they fund, they contribute to the education of a child in need
CommonBond was founded in 2011 by three MBA graduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who wanted to help their peers escape from high-interest student loan debt. Its original focus was on grad students, but it has since expanded to cover undergrads as well.
Of all the companies we reviewed, CommonBond has some of the best customer service. The company prides itself on being easy to reach by email, phone, or live chat. It offers networking events, expert panels, insider newsletters, and even has a program help borrowers who lose their jobs to find new ones. CommonBond also makes you feel good about choosing to refinance with them by donating money to an education nonprofit for each loan they write.
Get a personalized review of your refinancing options with CommonBond today.
Earnest empowers people with the financial captial they need to live better lives.
Using technology, data, and design to build affordable products, Earnest's lending products are built for a new generation seeking to reach life's milestones. The company understands every applicant's unique financial story to offer the lowest possible rates and radically flexible loan options for living life.
Click here to apply with Earnest and to see how much you can save.
Operates in all 50 states; 2nd largest student loan refinancing lender
Laurel Road is a national online lender with customers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Many of our non-bank competitors are not able to lend in all 50 states.Laurel Road has grown to be the second largest player in the student loan refinancing space in large part because of our reputation as the go-to low rate provider.
Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products
Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with new rates as low as 3.25% fixed APR which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. No application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Splash Financial is in all 50 states and is intensely focused on customer service. Splash Financial is also one of the few companies that offers a great medical resident and fellow refinance product. You can check your rate with Splash in just minutes.
Click here to see more of Splash's offerings and to see how you can save money.