Georgia has a long and rich history of higher education. Its flagship school, the University of Georgia, established in 1785, has the distinction of being one of the oldest public universities in the country.
Including its public and private institutions, modern-day Georgia offers 52 four-year colleges and universities, as well as 23 technical colleges. So how can you fund your education at one of Georgia’s many fine post-secondary schools?
In addition to other forms of financial aid, Georgia offers a variety of state-based college loans to students. Even better, many of these loans include forgiveness options.
To better understand student loans in Georgia and how they can meet your financial needs, explore the guide below to gain information about state-specific student resources, the importance of FAFSA and choosing a loan that fits your educational path.
Federal, state and private student loans are all available to Georgia students, in addition to the unique financial aid programs offered through the state.
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA, is one of the most important steps Georgia students and their families can take to pay for college. The FAFSA is used nationwide and is a mandatory step to determine the kind of federal aid a student receives. Additionally, it opens the door to a variety of financial aid opportunities.
Financial aid options available through the FAFSA include:
To guide students and their families through the application process, we created this interactive FAFSA guide that walks you through the application steps and how to answer each questions the best way possible.
Georgia’s Student Access Loan (SAL) program, administered by the Georgia Student Finance Commission, offers 1%-interest fixed-rate private educational loans to help undergrad students enrolled at public, private or technical colleges/universities who cannot cover all of their educational costs.
The loans are intended to cover gaps in funding, rather than providing a primary source of funding. To qualify, you must have first applied for and exhausted all other student financial aid options, including federal and state student loans, scholarship, grant programs and Veterans’ Educational Benefits.
Other qualifications include:
Note: If you’re attending a technical college, you’ll apply for a different version of the SAL.
SAL loans for those attending eligible University System of Georgia (USG) or private post-secondary institutions have a maximum annual limit of $8,000.
Students who choose to work in select public service sectors or in a school setting that pertains to STEM fields may have loan cancellation options.
If you’re attending an eligible Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) post-secondary institution, SAL loans have a maximum annual limit of $3,000. If you graduate with a minimum 3.50 cumulative post-secondary GPA from the program of study for which the loan was made, a loan discharge option will be available to you.
While the SAL program has the advantage of being open to all Georgia resident students attending eligible schools, regardless of their academic path, there are a number of specialized loans available, and many of them offer some degree of loan forgiveness/cancellation.
Here are a few examples:
The Georgia National Guard (GNG) Service Cancelable Loan was established as an incentive for qualified men and women to join the GNG. It provides loans to be used towards the cost of tuition in an undergraduate program at an eligible post-secondary institution.
University of North Georgia (UNG) Military Scholarship Loan Program is a service cancelable loan program that provides full scholarships to students interested in pursuing military careers. Loan recipients agree to serve in the Army National Guard for eight years (four while enrolled at UNG and four after graduation).
The Scholarship for Engineering Education (SEE) Program offers financial assistance to Georgia residents enrolled in an approved engineering program of study. Recipients must work in an engineering-related field in Georgia after graduation or they will have to repay the loan amount plus interest.
In an attempt to attract diverse engineering scholars in the future, the Scholarship for Engineering Education for Minorities (MSEE) offers financial assistance to create qualified engineers in Georgia. This is a service cancelable loan available to upperclassmen at eligible state colleges that can be used for tuition, room and board, or other educational expenses. Students who work in Georgia after graduation in an engineering-related field qualify for a reduction in their loan balance.
When putting together funds for school, be sure to find out if your school offers its own loan programs. The financial aid and admissions department pages on the college’s website are good places to begin your research.
The homepage for your chosen program of study is another possible source of information. If you’re an English major, for instance, check the English department’s web pages.
If online research doesn’t help, call the financial aid office and ask for guidance.
Here are several examples of institutional loans offered by Georgia Tech, as described on the Georgia Tech website:
Institutional Emergency Loans
These are interest-free, emergency, short-term notes for students who need assistance in paying tuition and fees, or cash loans up to $1,500.
Charles and Anna Tomberg Loan Fund
These interest-free loans are awarded to financially needy students to assist in financing education at Georgia Tech.
There are also several loans for financially needy students at 3% interest, such as:
Learn more at Georgia Tech’s Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.
Unfortunately, Georgia has been in the news in recent years because of the growing student debt and the growing number of Georgians dropping out of college due to rising costs.
Georgia recently ranked in the top 15 states for highest student debt, coming in at #12.
But between federal aid and the state’s loan and scholarship programs, it is possible to put a dent in the cost of your college education at a Georgia college or university.
Nearly half of university system students in Georgia qualify for financial help, according to the 2017 Georgia Higher Education Data Book. Georgia’s public college and university students often rely on federal financial aid.
If you’re heading to college in Georgia, the website of the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC) is an excellent resource. Originally created to provide loans, the GSFC progressed to include state- and lottery-funded scholarships, grants, service cancelable loan programs, and free financial aid consultation. GSFC's mission is “to ensure Georgians have an opportunity to access education beyond high school.”
The U.S. Department of Education offers two federal student loan programs: the Direct Loan Program and Federal Perkins Loan Program. Eligibility for both programs is determined by a students FAFSA application.
1. The Direct Loan Program is the largest federal student loan program offering four different types of loans for students with and without financial needs. Under this program, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender.
2. The Federal Perkins Loan Program is offered to students with exceptional financial need. Under this program, the school is your lender.
Federal students loans offer options for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds and generally speaking, are a safe bet offering good interest rates and repayment options for student borrowers.
If you’re in need of additional financial aid, consider taking out a private loan to acquire the remaining funds you need for your college education. Before taking out any private loans, play around with our free NitroScore tool to get a better idea of the size of loan needed, and which of our highly vetted loan partners can offer you the best rate.
The tool will ask you to enter a college and major into the boxes provided. It will use that information to calculate your total costs, salary after graduation, and potential loans needed. From there, you will receive a score that tells you how easy those loans will be to repay based on your projected salary. Further customize your results by including information about scholarships, grants and savings. You can also compare different college or major combinations to get a better idea about which options fit your financial situation.