Stafford Loan Consolidation: The Relationship between Treasury Bills and Education Loans
How do Stafford loans relate to Treasury Bills and rates?
Let's start with the basics. Treasury bills & bonds are essentially loans - you, as a purchaser of a Treasury bill, are loaning the government your money for a specific period of time.
When the economy is going well, chances are you're willing to loan more money for longer periods of time. You would therefore buy long term Treasury securities at a Treasury auction, like the 10-year Treasury Bond.
When the economy isn't going as well, chances are you will be a little more hesitant to loan a lot of money for long periods of time - you might need it for yourself. You would therefore buy short term Treasury securities, like the 91-day Treasury Bill, the selling price of which controls the federal stafford loan rate.
Not only are you influenced by the economy around you, but so is the government. When times aren't as good, the government needs to borrow more money, and offers a higher rate on the sale of Treasury Bills and Bonds. This is why the Treasury Bill and Bond rates change.
The stafford loan rates which are tied to the 91-day Treasury Bill are set that way due to the 1992 Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
How are stafford loan rates set?
- Treasury auctions occur every Monday of the year.
- The last auction in the month of May each calendar year is when stafford loan rates are set.
- The price of the 91-day Treasury Bill at that auction is the base rate for stafford loans, using the investment yield (as opposed to the discount yield)
Each stafford loan product then adds a margin on top of that investment yield.
- Stafford loans for students in school or in grace periods are T-Bill + 1.7%.
- Stafford loans for graduates in repayment (for loans after July 1, 1998) are T-Bill + 2.3%.
- PLUS loans for parents are T+Bill plus 3.1%.
- Stafford loans for graduates with loans older than July 1, 1998 are T-Bill + 3.1%.
- Rates take effect on July 1 of that calendar year for the academic year beginning in September of that year.
- Want to track T-Bill rates? The US Treasury publishes auction results every Tuesday.
As an example, the May 31, 2005 auction of the 91-day Treasury Bill had an investment yield of 3.0%.
- Rates took effect July 1, 2005.
- Stafford loans for students in school or in grace periods are 4.7%.
- Stafford loans for graduates in repayment (for loans after July 1, 1998) are 5.3%.
- PLUS loans for parents are 6.1%.
- Stafford loans for graduates with loans older than July 1, 1998 are also 6.1%
- These rates are good until June 30, 2006.
- The next May rate-setting auction will be May 29, 2006.