Eric Hardmeyer, Published October 01 2012
Letter: Bank’s fiscally sound decisions benefit people of North DakotaA recent letter to the editor discussed Bank of North Dakota’s DEAL (Dakota Education Alternative Loan) program and BND profits.
Currently, DEAL loan borrowers who are North Dakota residents or attend a North Dakota college may choose a fixed interest rate of 4.60 percent or a variable rate of 1.96 percent. The DEAL Loan rate has been below 6 percent for more than a year. Similar federal loan options have higher rates. The current unsubsidized federal student loan rate is 6.8 percent and the federal PLUS rate is 7.9 percent.
Of the $173.3 million currently distributed in DEAL loans by BND to North Dakota applicants, three-quarters are loaned at rates less than 6 percent. One-fifth of the loan dollars are at the variable rate of 1.96 percent.
Borrowers can consolidate student loans at a lower interest rate at BND. If a borrower is in the unfortunate situation of being unable to meet their student loan obligations, BND staff is available to offer a number of repayment options.
Two years ago, the U.S. government took over the student loan program and BND was no longer allowed to offer federal loans to North Dakotans. However, BND saw the challenges students faced in financing their education and chose to continue providing DEAL loans at some of the lowest interest rates offered. BND is committed to continuing to update the DEAL parameters to respond to the changing needs of our state’s residents and making higher education accessible. Recent efforts include the new College Planning Center website located at banknd.nd.gov and the Real DEAL scholarship opportunity available to high school seniors.
North Dakotans are the sole beneficiaries of BND’s profits. BND’s Charter, written in 1919, included the directive that BND was to “redeposit in the state … public funds.” Today, BND upholds this directive by returning funds to North Dakotans through the General Fund, disaster relief funding and student loans. We will continue to make fiscally sound decisions to benefit our state’s residents.
Hardmeyer is president, Bank of North Dakota.