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Idaho borrowers have an average federal and private student debt balance of $32,142, 12% less than the national average of $36,689.

That difference might be attributed to the state’s various scholarships for resident students, like the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship, and student loan repayment assistance programs.

Meanwhile, a state Senate bill that would have provided loan repayment assistance as a way to attract teachers to work in Idaho didn’t make it past a committee vote in early March.

Students who are ineligible for state scholarships and repayment programs often turn to other types of financial aid like Idaho student loans to pay for college.

Idaho student loans: Borrowers owe average of $32,142 in federal, private debt — and more facts

High school seniors in Idaho can reduce expenses toward their degree by attending one of the state’s public institutions. Through the Direct Admissions initiative, college-bound high school seniors who are at or above the state’s board-approved benchmark are automatically accepted into the following eight public colleges in the state:

  • Boise State University
  • Idaho State University
  • University of Idaho
  • Lewis-Clark State College
  • College of Eastern Idaho
  • College of Southern Idaho
  • College of Western Idaho
  • North Idaho College

Students who don’t meet the benchmark are automatically accepted into certain public schools in the state that offer certificate or associate degree programs.

Meanwhile, the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship is available to Gem State residents. Students can receive up to $3,500 per academic year. They must have a cumulative 2.7 GPA and attend an eligible Idaho college — among other requirements — to be eligible. The award can be renewed for up to four years if the student maintains eligibility.

Students pursuing a private college education have a few notable choices to consider, including Brigham Young University – Idaho, Carrington College and Northwest Nazarene University. Whether attending a public or private institution, Idaho students often find themselves exiting their college experience with student loan debt.

Student loan debt in Idaho’s largest county: Ada

Student loan debt by ZIP code in Idaho’s largest city: Boise

Loan repayment programs for Idaho residents

Residents who’ve entered the workforce saddled with student debt can look into Idaho’s student loan repayment assistance programs.

Rural Health Care Access Program (RHCAP)

Primary medical and dental health care professionals can receive a maximum of up to $35,000 for a one-year funding cycle. Providers must work in health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) or medically underserved areas (MUAs).

Rural Physician Incentive Program (RPIP)

RPIP offers eligible physicians up to $100,000 in student loan repayment assistance over four years. Providers who serve in primary care medicine, family medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics must work in an HPSA.

State Loan Repayment Program

Health care professionals working in an HPSA can take advantage of the State Loan Repayment Program. It offers a student loan payment match contribution between $10,000 and $25,000 a year.

The program requires full-time recipients to commit to a two-year service contract. Eligible participating sites must offer a sliding fee scale for low-income and underinsured patients and must accept Medicare and Medicaid.

Idaho federal student loan borrowers younger than 25 owe less than national average — and more comparisons

How to refinance Idaho student loans

Among federal student loan borrowers in Idaho, 5.6% owe $100,000 or more in student debt. For these borrowers, a student loan refinance could lower interest charges and long-term debt.

Borrowers can choose to combine federal and private student loans into a refinanced student loan. This repayment strategy gives borrowers a chance to shop around for lower interest rates and advantageous terms. Refinancing also simplifies the repayment process with one loan and one due date.

For private student loan borrowers, there are generally no disadvantages to refinancing, but federal loan borrowers should proceed with caution. Refinancing to a new private loan results in losing lucrative government benefits, including flexible repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Some private lenders offer deferment and forbearance options if you’re facing financial hardship, but this varies among lenders and is not as generous as federal deferment and forbearance protections.

Sources

  • U.S. Department of Education data as of June 30, 2020
  • Anonymized My LendingTree June 2020 credit reports
  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax as of June 2020
  • mappingstudentdebt.org

Because the latter data is from 2015, researchers estimated the increase in student loan debt per borrower in the state using statewide data from anonymized credit reports.

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