VSAC offers fixed-rate private student loan

Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) is again offering a fixed-rate private education loan for students who need to supplement their federal borrowing.

The Vermont Advantage loan for 2012–13 offers a choice of three competitively priced interest rates, depending on the repayment option the student chooses while attending school:

• 6.6 percent if the student begins making immediate monthly payments of both principal and interest

• 7 percent if the student makes interest-only payments

• 7.9 percent if the student defers repayment until after graduation.

The loan requires a cosigner and assesses a one-time origination fee, ranging from zero to 5 percent, depending on the cosigner’s credit rating.

Students eligible to borrow from VSAC are Vermont residents attending college in or out of state and nonresidents borrowing for attendance at a Vermont school. VSAC recommends that students submit their loan applications about eight weeks prior to the start of classes, although applications are accepted at any time.

VSAC urges students to consider all their federal education loan options prior to taking a private student loan such as the Vermont Advantage. If a private loan is needed, it’s important to compare lenders in order to ensure you get the best possible rate and terms for your situation. Rates in the marketplace can be fixed or variable; sometimes, lenders advertise low variable rates that are available only to a small number of borrowers or that have a high risk of rising if certain conditions are not met.

More details about the Vermont Advantage loan, including an online application, are available at vsac.org/vermontadvantageloan.

nou�| oe@ x� lete primary school, through seventh grade. He’s now 19 and still working to help pay for his younger brother and sister’s education. That was something I could never quite wrap my head around: the idea that a young child may be unable to go to school because of money.


These are some of the issues that the 52 Kids Foundation aims to fix by paying for the schooling of 52 Kamuli children and doing various projects in the communities to better health, safety, and quality of life. I was overwhelmed by the gratitude people expressed for everything the 52 Kids Foundation has done. People now have hope for the future because of the opportunities the Foundation is creating.

Before Dani and I left for our trip, we started a project called Ugandan Roots, which aimed to establish a tree farm for Kamuli and the 52 Kids Foundation. I knew that 52 Kids and Kamuli locals were excited about the project, but I didn’t fully understand why; now I do.

As we spent more time with community members, another issue became increasingly clear: it was not raining. June is supposed to mark the start of the Ugandan rainy season, so our trip should have seen rainfall every day like clockwork. The problem is, due to changing climate trends that Kamuli farmers have noticed in recent years, rain patterns are shifting and it is becoming more and more difficult for farmers to predict the rains and know when to plant their crops. In Uganda, climate change isn’t just something to worry about for future generations; it’s a real problem they are facing today.

Planting trees is the best way for the people of Kamuli to fight the devastating climate shifts they are feeling. As one wise woman told me, “trees bring the rains,” and the deforestation in and around Kamuli over the past few decades is already causing drastic changes in the rain patterns that farmers have depended on for generations. Local farmers provide most of the food for Kamuli, so when their crops die, the entire town suffers. For Kamuli, going green isn’t about politics or image; it’s a matter of survival.

In addition to the environmental benefit, trees provide a very valuable resource in Uganda, especially as they become more and more scarce. Firewood is the main source of cooking fuel and a necessity in every home, and the value of timber continues to go up. In 10 years, many of the kids that the 52 Kids Foundation supports will be going to universities or vocational schools, and a large enough tree farm would be able to provide vital income to make that possible.

It was no surprise that we found a tremendous amount of support for our project from the community. Thanks to the help and hard work of various community members, we were able to plant close to 200 trees on a 1.5-acre property just outside of town. In about 10 years, those trees will be harvested by the 52 Kids Foundation and used to fund any number of projects.

Two hundred trees is an excellent start, but we want to do even more. We have the opportunity now to lease five hectares (about 12.5 acres) from the Ugandan Forestry Reserve to plant trees for 52 Kids–if we are able to raise enough money. Everything we are able to accomplish is thanks to the generous donations of our sponsors. Dani and I want to thank all of the Ugandan Roots sponsors that made this project possible and gave us hope for the future of the 52 Kids. For more information about Ugandan Roots or to make a tax deductible donation, contact Laura Supple at 985-9403.

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