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Students lack access to federal loans: report

Nearly 1 million community college students across the country are getting shut out of federal student loans, simply because their schools choose not to offer them, according to a new report from The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS).

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Without access, the report stated, students are turning to riskier forms of borrowing or cutting back on classes.

The study examined enrollment during the 2013-14 academic year and determined 8.5 percent of the nation’s community college students have no access to federal student loans.

Despite relatively low tuition, said TICAS research director Debbie Cochrane, many factors go into the total cost of community college, and students need help at the start to put them on the right track.

“All in, community college costs are about $15,000 on average,” Cochrane said.

Just one (Essex County College) of New Jersey’s 19 community colleges does not participate in federal loan programs, resulting in a lack of access for 6.4 percent of students.

“Schools typically cite a fear of what might happen if too many of their borrowers end up not being able to repay their loans,” Cochrane said.

Based on loan defaults, colleges can be blocked from offering other federal financial aid, like grants, to students. According to the TICAS report, colleges can do a great deal to help students “borrow wisely and avoid default.” The study noted 17 percent of community college students utilize loans.

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