Guide to Oklahoma Student Loans (Interest Rates, Providers, and More)

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 2/24/20

When applying for college, it can be easy to get sticker shock. There are several ways to help make higher education more affordable, however. The first is through gift aid, such as scholarships and grants that don’t have to be paid back. 

Scholarships are offered through a variety of institutions and organizations for things like service, sports, and academic achievement. They are also offered to certain populations, people who have undergone hardship, and students who are entering certain fields of study. 

Grants are often given out based on need. If you come from a disadvantaged background or have financial need, you can often qualify for federal, state, or institutional-based grants. Some grants are based on what you study and can offer funding when you commit to a term of service in an underprivileged or shortage area. 

If you still need help paying for college after free money options are used up, you can borrow money through student loans. Student loans are either federal, where the U.S. Department of Education is your lender, or private, where a bank, school, credit union, or financial institution is your lender.

The financial aid office at your school can help you understand your options for funding your higher education.

Federal Student Aid in Oklahoma

The federal government is usually the first place you should look for help paying for college. To be considered for federal, state, or institutional-based aid, you will need to fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what you qualify for. 

If you have financial need, you may be able to receive funds through a Pell Grant or the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). You can also borrow money through federal direct subsidized loans. Subsidized loans cover your interest payments as long as you are in school at least half time. 

Federal student loan options also include unsubsidized loans. These usually require a credit check, but they don’t require a demonstration of financial need. You will be responsible for your accrued interest for the entire life of your loan.

The federal government offers the following student loan options:

  • Direct subsidized loans: With an interest rate of 4.53% for loans disbursed between July 1, 2019, and July 1, 2020, these loans are for undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need. You can borrow up to $23,000 over the life of the loan.
  • Direct unsubsidized loans: Both graduate and undergraduate students can get an unsubsidized direct loan with a credit check. Interest rates for loans disbursed between July 1, 2019, and July 1, 2020, are 4.53% for undergraduates and 6.08% for graduate and professional students.

    You can borrow up to $31,000 as a dependent undergraduate student, $57,500 as an independent undergraduate student, and up to $138,500 as a graduate or professional student over the life of your loan.
  • PLUS Loans: If you are a graduate or professional student or the parent of an undergraduate student, you can borrow up to the entire cost of your attendance (minus any financial aid) at your school. Interest rates for Direct PLUS Loans disbursed between July 1, 2019, and July 1, 2020, are 7.08%.
  • Direct consolidation loans: If you have more than one federal student loan, you can combine them into one loan through a consolidation loan. This can simplify your loan payments into one, but it may result in losing certain loan benefits or paying more over the life of the loan. Interest rates for a direct consolidation loan take the weighted average of all your loans and round them up one-eighth of a percent.

With federal student loans, your lender is the U.S. Department of Education, but your loan servicer is a different entity. In Oklahoma, federal student loans are often serviced by the Oklahoma Student Loan Authority (OSLA). The OSLA services direct student loans, direct consolidation loans, and federal family education loans (FFEL).

Federal student loan servicers, like OSLA, service loans by providing customer service and working with borrowers to make monthly payments. You will contact your loan servicer directly to make payments or manage another aspect of your loan. 

University-Based Student Aid in Oklahoma

When you fill out and submit your FAFSA, you are automatically considered for federal, state, and institutional-based financial aid. If you qualify for grant funds, you will be notified. Your award letter will also let you know if you qualify for federal work-study programs that allow you to work while enrolled in school to earn money to pay for education and living expenses. The award letter will also detail your eligibility for federal or institutional student loans.

The University of Oklahoma (OU) offers several institutional student loans. All require a co-signer who is at least 18 years old and not your spouse. The co-signer must attend OU, be a U.S. citizen, work full time, and make at least $35,000 a year. You have to submit your FAFSA and the Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification form to qualify.

Here are some institutional loans at OU:

Lew Wentz Merit Loan:

  • For middle-income families not eligible for need-based aid
  • Priority given for academic merit
  • Must be enrolled full time
  • Can borrow up to $5,000 per academic year
  • Interest rate of 5%
  • Interest accrues while in school, and annual interest payments are due by July 1

Murray Case Sells Loan:

  • Designed for middle-income families still needing aid
  • Can qualify for this while receiving other forms of aid
  • Must be enrolled at least half time and maintain satisfactory academic progress while in school
  • Can borrow up to $5,000 per academic year
  • Interest rate of 4%
  • Interest accrues while in school, and annual interest payments are due by July 1

Robert B. Lewis Technology Loan:

  • One-time loan of up to $2,500 to help you buy a computer
  • Possibility to receive this loan a second time as you progress to a higher degree program
  • Aggregate loan limit of $5,000
  • Must provide proof of computer cost with your loan application
  • Interest rate of 5%
  • Interest accrues while in school, and annual interest payments are due by July 1

James A. Robey and Medora Robey Loan:

  • Designed for students needing assistance outside of federal and general need-based financial aid
  • Can be received in addition to other forms of financial aid
  • Borrow up to $5,000 per year
  • Interest rate of 5%
  • Interest accrues while in school, and annual interest payments are due by July 1

Sallie B. Clark Loan:

  • Must be a female student
  • Cannot have a family income of more than $50,000 the previous year
  • Designed to help students who need aid outside of regular need-based avenues
  • Possible to borrow even if you receive other forms of financial aid
  • Co-signer required
  • Borrow up to $5,000 per academic year
  • Interest rate of 5%
  • Interest accrues while in school, and annual interest payments are due by July 1

For all OU institutional loans, there is an aggregate loan limit of $20,000. You will need to reapply for your loan each year. There is also an incentive for students to excel academically. For example, if you get a 4.0 during the fall or spring semester, you can have your interest for that semester waived.

Private Loan Providers in Oklahoma

Private student loans are offered through banks, credit unions, and financial institutions. Interest rates can be variable or fixed. Variable interest rate loans often start out with lower rates, but they can fluctuate over the life of the loan. Fixed-rate private loans average around 7% to 9%.

Private student loan rates and repayment terms vary by lender and loan type. These loans require a credit check, and you will often need a creditworthy co-signer to get a good rate with favorable repayment terms. The better your credit or your co-signer’s credit, the better your rates and terms.

Private student loans should generally be your last course of action after federal student loans and free money options. Consult with the financial aid office at your school or your school’s counselor to learn more about your financial aid options. If you have to borrow money for college, only borrow as much as you need.