For Immediate Release - April 01, 2009

GOVERNOR Patrick Announces $300 Million Available for Student Loans

Affordable fixed-interest loans offered to Massachusetts families for 2009-2010 school year; education investments part of Massachusetts Recovery Plan

BRAINTREE - Wednesday, April 1, 2009 - As part of his Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state's economic future, Governor Deval Patrick today announced the availability of $300 million in low-cost, fixed-rate loans to help tens of thousands of families send their children to college this fall. This announcement follows several education investments the Governor has unveiled in recent weeks, in keeping with his efforts to expand educational opportunities to all Massachusetts students.

"The first step toward future success starts with education and securing opportunities for tomorrow's workforce," Governor Patrick said. "Through our continued partnership with MEFA, we are making a college education affordable and accessible for more Massachusetts students and that's good news for all of us."

Applications for the loans offered by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) are available beginning today for the 2009-2010 academic year. With a fixed interest rate as low as 7.75%, the loans are an affordable option for undergraduate students and families during these challenging economic times. MEFA loans also offer a predictable and stable monthly payment of $99.65 per $10,000 borrowed.

Today's news of the loan offering comes on the heels of several education investments the Governor announced last month as part of his Massachusetts Recovery Plan. Last week he announced that, with the help of federal education recovery funds, public colleges and universities in Massachusetts will receive an additional $162 million this year, preventing layoffs and program cuts and mitigating the need for schools to increase student fees to close budget gaps.

The Governor also previously committed $168 million in federal education recovery funds for K-12 schools and $280 million in federal education recovery funds for special education and preschool grants. Additionally, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes substantial federal funding for Pell grants and work study programs.

The Patrick-Murray Administration also recently allocated $270 million in tax exempt bonds to MEFA to finance future education loans.

"As we continue our work to ensure all students are prepared academically for the challenges of college, we must also maintain our efforts to ensure they are able financially to access higher education," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "Governor Patrick has worked tirelessly to protect financial aid for students in the state budget and now we are fortunate to have this level of support for our partners at MEFA." Secretary Reville and MEFA Executive Director Tom Graf joined Governor Patrick at Braintree High School to make today's announcement.

"We at MEFA are grateful for the continued strong support of Governor Patrick," said MEFA Executive Director Tom Graf. "In these uncertain economic times, students need all the help they can get in order to further their education and set themselves on a path for future success. These loans are an important tool for families as they seek to assist their children in meeting their educational goals."

Currently, students across Massachusetts are receiving college acceptance letters and accompanying financial aid offers. MEFA loans are an attractive option for families who are seeking financial assistance beyond federal, state and institutional programs. MEFA's standard 7.75% interest-rate loan compares favorably to the Federal PLUS loan for parents, which features interest rates of up to 8.5%. MEFA's standard loan is also more competitive than most "direct-to-consumer" education loans offered by private banks, which can feature interest rates of up to 18 to 20 percent, and are often variable-rate, not fixed.

MEFA has trained education payment counselors available to help families evaluate higher education financing options. For added assistance, families can access www.mass.gov/studentloans, a website established by Governor Patrick last summer that includes helpful information and directs families to available resources.

Students and families can apply for loans online at www.MEFA.org/getaloan or by phone at (800) 449-MEFA.

Education investments are critical components of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Recovery Plan, which combines state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:

  • Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;
  • Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and
  • Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.

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