If you are getting ready to graduate or if you have dropped below half-time enrollment, your student loans will soon be entering repayment. While this can be a bit overwhelming, know that there are helpful resources you can turn to for assistance and answers to your loan repayment questions.
Loan Repayment Tips....What you need to know
- Know your loan types and grace period - 6 months for Stafford and Grad PLUS, 9 months for Perkins loans
- Get your loan information together in one place - The Department of Education's National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) allows you to access information on all of your federal student loans, even if you have attended more than one school. NOTE: Private loans will not be found here, so be sure you know how to contact your lender/servicer for any private loans borrowed. Go to http://www.nslds.ed.gov to get your information. You could have more than one servicer for your federal loans, so take note of contact information if you have more than one.
- Exit Counseling - Exit Counseling is required! You will receive information about repayment and your loan servicer will notify you of the date repayment will begin, usually November for May graduates. It is important to make full and on-time payments each month in order to avoid defaulting on your student loans. Defaulting on your student loans DOES affect your credit! To complete the Exit Counseling session, go to http://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA.
- Loan Consolidation - Consolidation is the process of combining multiple student loans into one new loan with a new repayment term, interest rate and monthly payment. Go to http://www.loanconsolidation.ed.gov to find out whether loan consolidation will be beneficial to you and to find out more information.
- Select a Repayment Plan - There will be several different options for your repayment plan and term. Be aware of all options available and that you may have to meet certain criteria for some of them. There are loan forgiveness programs for teachers and other public service jobs, so don't miss out on any of these that you might qualify for. You can find information and details on repayment plans and forgiveness programs by visiting http://studentaid.ed.gov.
- Electronic Payments - It is likely that you will receive an interest rate benefit for signing up for electronic monthly payments. Check with your loan servicer to see if this benefit is available to you.
- What to do if you have trouble making payments - There are deferment and forbearance options available for borrowers who have difficulty making payments due to economic hardship. Contact your loan servicer to find out if you qualify and how to apply.
- Going on to Graduate School? - If you begin a graduate program and are enrolled at least half-time before the end of your grace period, your loans will be placed back into the in-school deferment status and your grace period will reset itself to six months following completion of your graduate program or if you drop below half-time enrollment status.
Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Website - http://studentaid.ed.gov
National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) - http://www.nslds.ed.gov
Loan Consolidation - http://www.loanconsolidation.ed.gov
Project on Student Debt - http://projectonstudentdebt.org
Income-Based Repayment Plan Information - http://www.ibrinfo.org
General Loan Repayment Information - http://www.finaid.org
Defaulted Student Loan Assistance - http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/DCS/index.html
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program - http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/PSF.jsp
Loan Cancellation/Forgiveness Programs for Teachers - http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/teachercancel.jsp?tab=repaying