Student loans can help you achieve your dream of getting a college degree. But they can also get you in serious debt if you don’t consider all of the consequences before you borrow that money. Take the time to read up on student loans and how they can impact your future. Start with the tips below.
Always know the pertinent details of your loans. Keep a running total on the balance, know the repayment terms and be aware of your lender’s current information as well. These facts will determine your loan repayment and forgiveness options. This information is needed for proper budgeting.
Be sure you know about the grace period of your loan. Each loan has a different grace period. It is impossible to know when you need to make your first payment without looking over your paperwork or speaking with your lender. Be sure to be aware of this information so you do not miss a payment.
Do not hesitate to “shop” before taking out a student loan. Just as you would in other areas of life, shopping will help you find the best deal. Some lenders charge a ridiculous interest rate, while others are much more fair. Shop around and compare rates to get the best deal.
If you have extra money at the end of the month, don’t automatically pour it into paying down your student loans. Check interest rates first, because sometimes your money can work better for you in an investment than paying down a student loan. For example, if you can invest in a safe CD that returns two percent of your money, that is smarter in the long run than paying down a student loan with only one point of interest. Only do this if you are current on your minimum payments though and have an emergency reserve fund.
Never ignore your student loans because that will not make them go away. If you are having a hard time paying the money back, call and speak to your lender about it. If your loan becomes past due for too long, the lender can have your wages garnished and/or have your tax refunds seized.
Be sure your lender knows where you are. Keep your contact information updated to avoid fees and penalties. Always stay on top of your mail so that you don’t miss any important notices. If you fall behind on payments, be sure to discuss the situation with your lender and try to work out a resolution.
For those having a hard time with paying off their student loans, IBR may be an option. This is a federal program known as Income-Based Repayment. It can let borrowers repay federal loans based on how much they can afford instead of what’s due. The cap is about 15 percent of their discretionary income.
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.
It is best to get federal student loans because they offer better interest rates. Additionally, the interest rates are fixed regardless of your credit rating or other considerations. Additionally, federal student loans have guaranteed protections built in. This is helpful in the event you become unemployed or encounter other difficulties after you graduate from college.
The advice from above is just the beginning of what you need to know about student loans. Student loans are an incredible investment in your future. So you need to take the time to carefully consider what you will be borrowing and how it will all add up. The choices you make today can have great impact on your financial future.