By Steven Muller
Can you still get a student loan for the fall semester? The answer is yes, but it's going to take some work. Back in April, I wrote a column that dismissed talk of a student loan credit crisis. It's time to revisit that judgment, because the problems with student loan availability have definitely gotten worse. As we get closer to the beginning of the semester, the time is right to go over students' and families' best options for getting a last-minute student loan.
First, how bad is this problem? It is still true, as the secretary of education recently pointed out, that no eligible student has been unable to get a federal loan. While the number of lenders who have actually gotten out of the Federal Family Education Loan Program has doubled to 99 (see full list here) since my April column, that's still a very small percentage of all lenders. In May, Congress rushed to pass legislation that would increase access to student loan funding. And many of the largest lenders, like Sallie Mae, Citibank, and JP Morgan Chase, are actively taking up the slack by expanding their loan portfolios.
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