Costly Private Loans Masquerade As Federal Student Loans

Some students who didn’t read the fine print are finding out too late that what they thought were federal student loans were actually private loans. The mistake is the difference between a 6% and 18% interest rate.


Hickey knew she would need loans to complete her degree, so she went to the campus financial aid office as a freshman. After she filled out paperwork, Brooks Institute set her up in a loan program administered by Sallie Mae, the nation’s biggest student lender. Sallie Mae was chartered by the federal government in 1972, and most of its business is in issuing federally insured student loans. But while it may appear to be a quasi-government agency, it is in fact a for-profit company whose stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Hickey ended up with $20,000 in low-interest federally guaranteed loans issued by Sallie Mae, and $120,000 in higher-interest private loans issued by Sallie Mae.

Has this happened to you? Leave your thoughts, and monthly payments, in the comments.

Student loans turn into crushing burden for unwary borrowers [LAT]