You may start getting student loan offers in your mailbox while you are still in high school. This may be something that can benefit you significantly. In the end, you have to know what you’re doing before you pick any one loan.
When it comes to student loans, make sure you only borrow what you need. Consider the amount you need by taking a look at your total expenses. Factor in items like the cost of living, the cost of college, your financial aid awards, your family’s contributions, etc. You’re not required to accept a loan’s entire amount.
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.
To keep your student loan load low, find housing that is as reasonable as possible. While dormitory rooms are convenient, they are often more costly than apartments near campus. The more money you have to borrow, the more your principal will be — and the more you will have to pay out over the life of the loan.
It can be hard to figure out how to get the money for school. A balance of grants, loans and work is usually necessary. When you work to put yourself through school, it is important not to overdo it and negatively affect your performance. Although the specter of paying back student loans may be daunting, it is usually better to borrow a little more and work a little less so you can focus on your school work.
Take advantage of student loan repayment calculators to test different payment amounts and plans. Plug in this data to your monthly budget and see which seems most doable. Which option gives you room to save for emergencies? Are there any options that leave no room for error? When there is a threat of defaulting on your loans, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
Never sign any loan documents without reading them first. This is a big financial step and you do not want to bite off more than you can chew. You need to make sure that you understand the amount of the loan you are going to receive, the repayment options and the rate of interest.
Check with a variety of institutions to get the best arrangements for your federal student loans. Some banks and lenders may offer discounts or special interest rates. If you get a good deal, be certain that your discount is transferable should you decide to consolidate later. This is also important in the event your lender is bought by another lender.
If you are in a position to do so, sign up for automated student loan payments. Certain lenders offer a small discount for payments made the same time each month from your checking or saving account. This option is recommended only if you have a steady, stable income. Otherwise, you run the risk of incurring hefty overdraft fees.
College requires lots of decision making, but taking out loans is perhaps the area of most concern to many. You may wind up with a huge problem after school because you are faced with the possibility of paying back a big loan with an even bigger interest rate. Keep these tips in mind when going to college.