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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Women's group offers low-interest college loans

  • The Philanthropic Education Organization is offering cheap dollars for college to female students. It's not a scholarship, but the loans come with better rates than the feds' offering.
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  • The Philanthropic Educational Organization, or P.E.O, a women's education organization, is offering low-interest student loans that beat Stafford loan rates for selected candidates in Dodge City. 
    The loan "can help a lot of women who stall out at some point during their education. It can give them that necessary boost," said Becky Bredfeldt, a member of the organization's Dodge City chapter.
    The group offers loans of up to $12,000 for selected Bachelor's and Master's degree students, and $20,000 for doctoral degrees, at a 3 percent interest rate, less than a Stafford loan and three to four times less than the typical private loan.
    It's been more than two years since a woman in Dodge City sought access to the loan, Bredfeldt said, and she and the more than 30 members of P.E.O. in Dodge City would like to see that change.
    "Ultimately we're looking for dedicated people. It doesn't matter what your career path is, as long as you're trying to improve yourself," Bredfeldt said. Applicants, who must be women to qualify, will be interviewed by the organization, must have completed at least one semester of post-secondary schooling and be in good academic standing.
    In Bredfeldt's 25 years teaching nursing at Dodge City Community College, she has seen how changing household roles between spouses, childcare costs and long commutes to schools that offer 4-year degrees can derail even the most diligent degree seekers.
    After Bredfeldt earned a Bachelor's Degree at St. Mary's of the Plains, she found out her "dream job" required a Master's Degree which included long trips to visit the University of Kansas campus several times a semester where she was the school's first nursing outreach graduate student.
    For women living in rural communities, it can be "very difficult" to get a graduate education without support, Bredfeldt said.
    "I really needed the money in order to support that commute, in addition to a baby sitting here. ... Yeah, it was definitely difficult," she said.
    Secure finances help secure a happy home during the stress and changes that can happen when a woman is attending school, Bredfeldt said. P.E.O. only requires applicants be in good academic standing, which makes the loans available for those with less than stellar transcripts.
    "We all like scholarships, but we don't all qualify," Bredfeldt said. This subsidized loan is the next best thing, and can fill the gap where students would otherwise have to resort to unsubsidized or private loans to continue learning.
    P.E.O. has been offering the low-interest loans since 1907. In the two years starting in 2011, the organization provided loans totaling almost $14 million. The organization also operates Cottey College, a private liberal arts and science school in Nevada, Mo.
    Page 2 of 2 - Currently, subsidized Stafford loans through the federal government cover the interest on the loan while the student is in school, six months after graduation and during any period of deferment and currently sit at a 3.9 percent interest rate. They are only available for undergraduate students that have no previously earned a four-year degree.
    Graduate students can only get unsubsidized Stafford loans from the government currently at a fixed rate of 5.4 percent.
    Americans now carry more than $1 trillion in student loan debt, surpassing the amount of credit card debt nationally with average debts over $30,000 per student. 
    Bredfeldt recommends that interested students start on the process now in order to get access to the loan for next year.  
    For more information on the loan contact Becky Bredfeldt at becajo@cox.net. Information on Philanthropic Educational Organization can be found at www.peointernational.org.
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