Bank Shake-Up Could Affect Student Loans

March 24, 2008

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Three banks recently said goodbye to the federal student loan program. One had a substantial Illinois portfolio. The change could affect college students' bottom line.

TCF Bank has hooked up Illinois students with government-backed loans for more than a decade, but it's leaving because the government won't subsidize the program as much as it had in the past.

This worries industry people like Andrew Davis, who runs Illinois' Student Assistance Commission—a state agency and lender. Davis says less competition could raise student loan interest rates.

DAVIS: If you go to your financial aid office and there's only one lender there, they're less likely to aggressively court your business and they're more likely to tell you what the deal's going to be, as opposed to trying to win you over by offering a slightly better deal.

Davis says Illinois students should find enough private money to borrow this year; that is, if banks stay in the market. He recommends students apply for aid soon to secure what they need.

I'm Shawn Allee, Chicago Public Radio.