Getting the student loans necessary to finance your education can seem like an incredibly daunting task. You have also probably heard horror stories from those whose student debt has resulted in near poverty during the post-graduation period. But, by spending some time learning about the process, you can spare yourself the agony and make smart borrowing decisions.
Know your grace periods so you don’t miss your first student loan payments after graduating college. Stafford loans typically give you six months before starting payments, but Perkins loans might go nine. Private loans are going to have repayment grace periods of their own choosing, so read the fine print for each particular loan.
Do not panic if a job loss or other emergency makes paying your student loan difficult. Many times a lender will allow the payments to be pushed back if you make them aware of the issue in your life. Just be mindful that doing so could make your interest rates rise.
Try getting a part-time job to help with college expenses. Doing this can help you cover some of your student loan costs. It can also reduce the amount that you need to borrow in student loans. Working these kinds of positions can even qualify you for your college’s work study program.
If you choose to pay off your student loans faster than scheduled, make sure that your extra amount is actually being applied to the principal. Many lenders will assume extra amounts are just to be applied to future payments. Contact them to make sure that the actual principal is being reduced so that you accrue less interest over time.
Be careful when consolidating loans together. The total interest rate might not warrant the simplicity of one payment. Also, never consolidate public student loans into a private loan. You will lose very generous repayment and emergency options afforded to you by law and be at the mercy of the private contract.
Consider using your field of work as a means of having your loans forgiven. A number of nonprofit professions have the federal benefit of student loan forgiveness after a certain number of years served in the field. Many states also have more local programs. The pay might be less in these fields, but the freedom from student loan payments makes up for that in many cases.
Try shopping around for your private loans. If you need to borrow more, discuss this with your adviser. If a private or alternative loan is your best bet, make sure you compare items like repayment options, fees, and interest rates. Your school may recommend some lenders, but you’re not required to borrow from them.
You should shop around before deciding on a student loan company because it can end up saving you a lot of money in the end. The school you attend may try to sway you to choose a particular one. It is best to do your research to make sure that they are giving you the best advice.
Try looking at consolidation for your student loans. This can help you combine your multiple federal loan payments into a single, affordable payment. It can also lower interest rates, especially if they vary. One major consideration to this repayment option is that you may forfeit your deferment and forbearance rights.
You may feel intimidated by the prospect of arranging the student loans you need for your schooling to be possible. However, you must not let the bad experiences of others cloud your ability to move forward. By educating yourself about the various types of student loans available, you will be able to make sound choices that will serve you well for the coming years.