By Kara Lassen Oliver, freelance writer and editor, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry
Daniel Mateer always knew that college was in his future. “I have good parents,” he said. “Both my grandfathers went to college, my mom, and my dad has his masters.” He found math and science courses in high school easy, even boring. Now, as an electrical engineering student at West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, West Virginia, Daniel finds the courses very challenging and time-consuming. In the engineering school he has enjoyed lab experience and looks forward to a career in power generation or radio communications.
Daniel is a no-nonsense son of a United Methodist pastor. Daniel knew about the United Methodist Smart Loan, administered by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, because his sisters had already benefited from the same loan program. So he didn’t think twice about applying. “Do the numbers,” he said. After running a spreadsheet with figures from various student loans, it was obvious that the Smart Loan made the most economical sense for him.
The Smart Loan for students attending an undergraduate institution is a non-deferred loan with a fixed rate; a cosigner is required. Comparing the Smart Loan interest rate of 3.75 percent to a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan with a 4.66 percent interest rate, the Smart Loan recipient will graduate with a smaller monthly payment and short terms. Daniel bears full responsibility for the repayment of these loans and knows that he has chosen well, saving thousands of dollars in repayment once he graduates in 2017 and begins his career.
Daniel chose WVU because he could live with his sister and save money on housing. His preference was also not to get a part-time job so that he could focus solely on the rigorous classwork. The Smart Loan eases the burden of academic and living expenses so that he can do just that.
Daniel hopes to stay in West Virginia when he graduates but is willing to go wherever a job takes him. His decision will be easier than for some, knowing that his loan payments will be manageable. When asked about advice for other students seeking financial assistance he said, “Go for the lowest interest rate. Absolutely look at the United Methodist loans. Applying for these loans pays off in the end.”
GBHEM will accept applications for spring and summer loans until May 5, 2015. The spring and summer loans are for school enrollment between January 1, 2015 and May 31, 2015. Applications are available at www.gbhem.org/loanapplication.