College Seniors Week 2: Paying Your Loans

14 Apr

Raysha Duncan Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

Counting $50s

GIF from: compliancex.com

Yikes! This is a scary topic, especially with student loan debt being broadcasted all over the news. Student loan payments can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re still on the JOB HUNT.  I’ve gone ahead and summarized some important information to know about your loans as well as some really helpful links to help you through the repayment process.

 

Grace Periods

If you have Stafford Loans and have stayed enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours for undergrads and 4 credit hours for grads) for your entire college career, you will have your full grace period of six months before you are expected to start paying on those loans. If you have a Subsidized Stafford Loan, depending on when you took out your loans, they may start to accrue interest during this grace period. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans have accrued the entire time you’ve had them and will continue to during your grace period and beyond until they are paid off.

Grace periods for Perkins Loans are nine months, as long as you have remained continuously enrolled at half-time status during your entire college career.

Grace periods for private loans vary per lender, so you will want to check with your loan servicer to determine when you are expected to start making payments on them.

 Interest Rates

Climbing Out of Debt

Stafford Loan interest rates have been changing a lot recently; they’ve gone down this past year (2013-2014) thanks to Obama signing the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. But, this also means you could have multiple Stafford Loans with different interest rates. You can log into your student loan account at the National Student Loan Database to check on your loans, their interest rates, and to see your loan servicer.
Perkins Loans have a 5% set interest rate.

 

Private Loans have variable or set interest rates, depending on your lender. You’ll want to check with the lender to see what your interest rate is currently and if it’s subject to change.

 

Repayment 

counting money

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Frankie J. Colbry

The biggest thing you need to know about your loans at this point? You need to repay them. I’d suggest starting at here. This website has a lot of helpful information:

Repayment Options: the different types, and what applies to you

Loan Consolidation: how to do it, can you do it

Making Payments: where to go, who you pay

Deferment & Forbearance: are you eligible, what to do

 

There’s a lot of information floating around about student loans these days, so set aside some time and actually do some research in figuring out what the best repayment options are for you. You have to pay them back, and you may be paying on them for the next few years, so you may as well know what’s expected of you.

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