Tag Archives: repayment

Financial Aid February: Choosing a Loan Repayment Plan

28 Feb

All information on repayment plans is from this article by David Evans, Ph.D.
Additional info added by Casey Doten, Purdue Financial Aid Administrator

There are two main types of repayment plans you can choose from: traditional and income-driven. For borrowers that will qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), income-driven plans may be the better option. Income-driven plans will require an annual verification of income. This fact sheet describes each of the repayment plans as well as pros and cons of each. For more information about each of the repayment plans visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Traditional Plansstudent-loan-repayment-plans

Standard Repayment Plan

The Standard Repayment plan consist of equal monthly payments over a 10-year period of time. This repayment plan is good for those who can handle making their monthly payments and make enough money to afford them. This payment plan is best for those who have minimal other debts and start working right out of school.

The Pros: You’ll pay off your loan faster compared to other plans, and pay less interest as a result.

The Cons: Your monthly payments will be higher than those made through other plans.

Graduated Repayment Plan

The Graduated and Extended Repayment plans could be an option for you if your income is low when you graduate but will increase quickly. Under a graduated plan, payments start out low and increase during the repayment period, usually every two years. This is a good plan if you can’t afford your current payments but know you will make more money in the years to come.

The Pros: Your loan is still paid off within 10 years.

The Cons: You’ll pay more interest over the lifetime of your loan compared to the Standard Plan.

Extended Repayment Plan

An Extended Repayment Plan is an option if your loan amount is more than $30,000 and you want to stretch your repayment to 25 years.

The Pros: Smaller monthly payments (since they’re spread out over as many as 25 years) and more time to pay off your loan.

The Cons: You’ll be saddled with payments for a longer period of time as well as pay more interest.

Income-Driven Plans

If you qualify for an Income-Driven plan, these are often the most attractive options if you’re willing to recertify your payment each year (it’s not very difficult). However, some of these are contingent on when you took out loans! If you’re interested in student loan forgiveness*, you’ll need to be enrolled in any one of these plans.

Income Based Repayment Plan

If you’re not making enough money to cover all of your monthly expenses the Income Based Repayment (IBR) Plan would be a good option. There are two separate calculations for IBR which are dependent upon when you took out your student loans.

The Pros: The IBR plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income** if you were a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. Otherwise it will be 15%. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF (this is true for all loan forgiveness).

Income Contingent Repayment Plan

If you have a federal Direct Loan (other than a PLUS loan), you could opt for the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan. Your payments could be as low $5 or even $0.

The Pros: Your monthly payment will be the lesser of 20% of your discretionary income or on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over 12 years. You can have your remaining loan balance forgiven after 25 years of regular payments.

The Cons: You’ll pay more over the lifetime of your loan than you would with a 10-year plan, your payment could be lower than the monthly accrued interest and your loan principal will grow. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan

The Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan is only available for those with Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. Payments are based on your annual income, family size, and total loan amount. You would pay the loan off in fifteen years.

The Pros: Each lender has their own calculation, but generally it is between 4% and 25% of your monthly gross income, although your payment must be greater than or equal to the interest that accrues.

The Cons: It’s only available for up to five years. After that time, you must switch to another repayment plan. You must reapply annually, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll have continued enrollment in the plan.

Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Pay as You Earn Repayment (PAYE) Plan is another option for those not able to afford their current monthly payments.

The Pros: The PAYE plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 years.

The Cons: PAYE is only eligible to those who were new borrowers on or after October 1, 2007 and must have received a disbursement of a Direct Loan on or after October 1, 2011. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment (REPAYE) Plan is very similar to PAYE. This plan was created to allow more borrowers the opportunity to have their payments lowered to 10% of discretionary income.

The Pros: Not dependent upon when you took out your student loan, the payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: If you are married, your spouse’s income will be considered whether taxes are filed jointly or separately. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Summary

Federal student loans offer various ways for repayment. If you are in a situation (like so many others who have taken out student loans) that is not ideal for standard repayment of your loan, consider these options. There is a lot to consider when you are trying to decide which repayment plan to choose. Using the Federal Student Loan Repayment Estimator can help you make your decision by showing you what your payments would be under each of the plans described above.

*A note about loan forgiveness: There are two different kinds of loan forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and loan forgiveness from your income-driven repayment plan ending. While both plans require you to be enrolled in an income-driven plan to reap the benefits there are some key differences:
-PSLF requires being employed at a qualifying employer in public service (non-profits, government, etc.) for 10 years/ 120 qualifying payments before forgiveness takes place. Standard forgiveness is after 20 or 25 years depending on your repayment plan.

-Any loan amounts forgiven under PSLF are tax-free, but not under standard forgiveness! So if you still have a balance on your loans after 20 (or 25) years, you will owe taxes on it as if it is income. While it’s still better than paying the amount back, it’s important to know it will have ramifications.

**Discretionary income = Your income – 150% of the poverty level in your state for your family size

Choosing a Federal Student Loan Repayment Plan

14 Dec

All information on repayment plans is from this article by David Evans, Ph.D.
Additional info added by Casey Doten, Purdue Financial Aid Administrator

There are two main types of repayment plans you can choose from: traditional and income-driven. For borrowers that will qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), income-driven plans may be the better option. Income-driven plans will require an annual verification of income. This fact sheet describes each of the repayment plans as well as pros and cons of each. For more information about each of the repayment plans visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Traditional Plansstudent-loan-repayment-plans

Standard Repayment Plan

The Standard Repayment plan consist of equal monthly payments over a 10-year period of time. This repayment plan is good for those who can handle making their monthly payments and make enough money to afford them. This payment plan is best for those who have minimal other debts and start working right out of school.

The Pros: You’ll pay off your loan faster compared to other plans, and pay less interest as a result.

The Cons: Your monthly payments will be higher than those made through other plans.

Graduated Repayment Plan

The Graduated and Extended Repayment plans could be an option for you if your income is low when you graduate but will increase quickly. Under a graduated plan, payments start out low and increase during the repayment period, usually every two years. This is a good plan if you can’t afford your current payments but know you will make more money in the years to come.

The Pros: Your loan is still paid off within 10 years.

The Cons: You’ll pay more interest over the lifetime of your loan compared to the Standard Plan.

Extended Repayment Plan

An Extended Repayment Plan is an option if your loan amount is more than $30,000 and you want to stretch your repayment to 25 years.

The Pros: Smaller monthly payments (since they’re spread out over as many as 25 years) and more time to pay off your loan.

The Cons: You’ll be saddled with payments for a longer period of time as well as pay more interest.

Income-Driven Plans

If you qualify for an Income-Driven plan, these are often the most attractive options if you’re willing to recertify your payment each year (it’s not very difficult). However, some of these are contingent on when you took out loans! If you’re interested in student loan forgiveness*, you’ll need to be enrolled in any one of these plans.

Income Based Repayment Plan

If you’re not making enough money to cover all of your monthly expenses the Income Based Repayment (IBR) Plan would be a good option. There are two separate calculations for IBR which are dependent upon when you took out your student loans.

The Pros: The IBR plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income** if you were a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. Otherwise it will be 15%. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF (this is true for all loan forgiveness).

Income Contingent Repayment Plan

If you have a federal Direct Loan (other than a PLUS loan), you could opt for the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan. Your payments could be as low $5 or even $0.

The Pros: Your monthly payment will be the lesser of 20% of your discretionary income or on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over 12 years. You can have your remaining loan balance forgiven after 25 years of regular payments.

The Cons: You’ll pay more over the lifetime of your loan than you would with a 10-year plan, your payment could be lower than the monthly accrued interest and your loan principal will grow. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan

The Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan is only available for those with Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. Payments are based on your annual income, family size, and total loan amount. You would pay the loan off in fifteen years.

The Pros: Each lender has their own calculation, but generally it is between 4% and 25% of your monthly gross income, although your payment must be greater than or equal to the interest that accrues.

The Cons: It’s only available for up to five years. After that time, you must switch to another repayment plan. You must reapply annually, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll have continued enrollment in the plan.

Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Pay as You Earn Repayment (PAYE) Plan is another option for those not able to afford their current monthly payments.

The Pros: The PAYE plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 years.

The Cons: PAYE is only eligible to those who were new borrowers on or after October 1, 2007 and must have received a disbursement of a Direct Loan on or after October 1, 2011. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment (REPAYE) Plan is very similar to PAYE. This plan was created to allow more borrowers the opportunity to have their payments lowered to 10% of discretionary income.

The Pros: Not dependent upon when you took out your student loan, the payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: If you are married, your spouse’s income will be considered whether taxes are filed jointly or separately. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Summary

Federal student loans offer various ways for repayment. If you are in a situation (like so many others who have taken out student loans) that is not ideal for standard repayment of your loan, consider these options. There is a lot to consider when you are trying to decide which repayment plan to choose. Using the Federal Student Loan Repayment Estimator can help you make your decision by showing you what your payments would be under each of the plans described above.

*A note about loan forgiveness: There are two different kinds of loan forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and loan forgiveness from your income-driven repayment plan ending. While both plans require you to be enrolled in an income-driven plan to reap the benefits there are some key differences:
-PSLF requires being employed at a qualifying employer in public service (non-profits, government, etc.) for 10 years/ 120 qualifying payments before forgiveness takes place. Standard forgiveness is after 20 or 25 years depending on your repayment plan.

-Any loan amounts forgiven under PSLF are tax-free, but not under standard forgiveness! So if you still have a balance on your loans after 20 (or 25) years, you will owe taxes on it as if it is income. While it’s still better than paying the amount back, it’s important to know it will have ramifications.

**Discretionary income = Your income – 150% of the poverty level in your state for your family size

Entering Loan Repayment? Tips for Recent Grads

16 Nov

repay-banner

Whether you’re a recent graduate whose loans are just entering repayment or you have been making payments for several years, there is a very real chance that educational loan payments may be causing you a financial hardship. For recent graduates, there is a lot of info covered in federal exit counseling and it would be easy to have missed some of it.

Loan Servicer Navient has put together a list of their Top 10 Things to do Before You Make Your 1st Loan Payment. The key to successfully repaying your loans with any Loan Servicer is understanding your responsibilities as a borrower and the wide range of tools available to help you throughout repayment. Your Loan Servicer doesn’t want you to default and you definitely don’t want to default on your loans either!

While there isn’t much that can be done about the amount you owe since you’ve already borrowed it, you can still choose from several different options for repayment.  The Institute for College Access and Success created a Top 10 Tips for recent graduates, a handy reference for borrowers.

Unless you chose otherwise, you’re probably enrolled in the Standard Repayment Plan which spreads your payments evenly over 10 years. This is both the default plan as well as the most aggressive repayment option available. However, there are several other options a borrower can choose which can limit the repayment per month to 10% of  discretionary income and reduce payments to as little as zero dollars per month (depending on income). For more information, check out Acacia Squire’s piece in NPR about her experiences and what options may be available to you.

 

 

Your Federal Loan Repayment

23 Sep

Honest businessman

Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Debt.org, where she writes about personal finance and little smart ways to spend (and save) money. Alanna has an English degree from Rollins College. Join our Debt.org Google+ Community

repay-banner

As you fill out your intent to graduate forms and begin looking into the post-college future, your stomach might start to turn. You might start to panic and it may become difficult to breathe as you start imagining your monthly student loan payments. Stop, take a step back, BREATH, and let’s think about the situation.

But guess what? There’s good news!

Not only do you have a six month grace period after you leave school or drop below half-time attendance for your federal student loans, you also have numerous options for repayment plans. A grace period is a period of time after borrowers graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment where they are not required to make payments on certain federal student loans. Some federal student loans will accrue interest during the grace period, and if the interest is unpaid, it will be added to the principal balance of the loan when the repayment period begins. Repayment plans are designed to accommodate the needs of graduates entering the job market and receiving introductory salaries, while carrying the responsibility of handling additional bills, like rent, insurance, gas and groceries.

You do have options. If the standard ten-year plan with fixed payments is too much for you to handle, contact your lender to negotiate payments that match your budget. Not sure who your lender is? You can view all your federal loans and their lenders online from the National Student Loan Database.

Which Plan Meets Your Needs?

Cartoon Family Portrait

Federal student loans come with a variety of repayments plans that are offering based on requirements such as income, family size, or loan type. Examples of federal loans include Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loans, which could be Subsidized Stafford loans, Unsubsidized Stafford loans, or PLUS loans. There are three main categories of repayment plans for you to consider.

First, the Graduated Repayment plan will allow you to begin making lower payments. Although, like the Standard plan, this plan must be completed in ten years, the lower payments gives you time to increase your salary. Every two years, your monthly payments will increase.

Second, if the Graduated plan is still more than you can afford, the Extended Plan allows you to take up to 25 years to repay loans. There is more flexibility with this option, as you can choose between a fixed or graduated payment.

Finally, there are four different repayment plans that consider your income as a factor. Some of these plans also consider factors like family size, spouse’s income, and total amount of loans. Although these have similar-sounding names, each has specific requirements and formulas which influence the monthly amount you will owe.

Four plans with income factors:

Federal Loan Consolidation

While you are researching different payment cycles and methods, you may consider a Federal Loan Consolidation. A Federal Loan Consolidation allows you to merge all your Federal Student Loans into one loan. This can include your Subsidized Stafford Loan, Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, and Perkins loans. Once all your Federal Student Loans are merged into one loan, you will only have one monthly payment and one interest rate attributed to the loans. However, note that this will likely not reduce your overall interest rate since it is weighted by loan. As you can see, a Federal Consolidated Loan may allow for an easier way to manage monthly repayment.

How Can You Prepare Now?

cartoon roadmapGet in the habit of putting a portion of your paycheck in savings now, before you start paying back your loans. This will force you to make a budget and spend less every month, so when the time for repayment comes, it will be easier to part with this percentage of your paycheck.

The money you save up during your grace period can also be used as an emergency fund of accessible cash for unexpected situations. This cushion can enable you to afford your loan payments even when you have unexpected expenses such as a flat tire, broken arm or speeding ticket. Preparing yourself for the future can protect your loan debt from growing any larger.

Make sure your loan servicer has updated information, including your phone number and email. Your servicer will need this information in order to communicate any new information on your loans, including when your next bill is due.

Choosing a plan and taking a proactive approach with your finances can help you smoothly adjust into your repayment period.

Cost of Attendance: Explained

21 Sep

Whether you know it or not, there is a limit to how much financial aid you can receive in a year. This is reflected in your Cost of Attendance (COA), which is sometimes referred to as your “budget” when speaking to a financial aid counselor. It includes 1. Tuition & Fees; 2. Housing & food; 3. Travel; 4. Books/ Supplies; and 5. Miscellaneous (think laundry or other random expenses). Your COA is NOT what you are being billed, rather it is an estimate of the total cost of attending school for one year.

  1. Tuition is the biggest variable between students when it comes to COA. The three different standard levels of tuition are based off of your residency as shown on the chart. This will also include your differential fees as well.tuitionfees-image.jpg
  • Differential Fees are added tuition costs for certain colleges or with specific majors (Engineering, Krannert, Polytechnic, and Computer Science).
  • Then, there are fees for classes like horseback riding, wine tasting, etc. While these are added to your bill like Differential Fees, they are not automatically added to your COA! The exception is the course fees for Aviation Tech majors.
  • These Differential and Course Fees are the same for every student regardless of residency.
  1. After Tuition & Fees, everything else other than Travel is the same for each student’s COA, regardless of their residency.housingfood-image
  • Outside of tuition, your biggest expense is almost always going to be your housing and food.
  • If you live on-campus or have a meal plan, this will be included in your bill from Purdue.
  • However, if you live off-campus it will not be on your bill but will still be included in your COA.

Your COA says that on average you should be spending $10,030 combined for your housing and food costs. Depending on your situation this might be much higher than you actually need or it might not be enough.

  • If you find that your housing and food costs will be significantly lower, consider borrowing less if you are taking out student loans.
  • If it is much higher and you need financial aid to help, contact the Financial Aid office.travel-image
  1. The travel portion of the budget is one that will end up extremely different from one student to the next. This is generally meant to be enough for a student to visit home twice throughout the year, but as you can bet the $370 is woefully inadequate for an International Student unless you’re driving to the closest areas in Canada from West Lafayette.bookssupplies-image
  1. Books and Supplies attempts to estimate the costs for your textbooks and other supplies needed for the year (pens, folders, notebooks, etc.). You may also consider using this money in order to buy a computer for yourself in order to do your classwork. If this is the case and your current aid will not be enough to cover it you may consider contacting the Financial Aid office to help increase your budget.miscellaneous-image
  2. The Miscellaneous category are all of the other incurred student costs that don’t fit neatly into the other categories. Costs like toiletries, laundry, clothes, and other personal expenses are included in this diverse category. Although they are smaller purchases, if they are unaccounted for, they can chip away at anyone’s budget.

If you feel like your Cost of Attendance is not representative of your costs of being a student at Purdue for a year and gives you too little room for aid, please contact our Financial Aid office. Conversely, if you find it is higher than you need and you are borrowing to help finance your education, seriously consider taking less in loans! Every dollar you don’t borrow is one you don’t have to pay back – with interest. You are also able to have allowances for child care or other dependent care and costs related to a disability, which is also added into your COA, but you must contact the Financial Aid office for assistance.

Keep in mind that if you increase your Cost of Attendance, that only increases how much aid you are eligible to receive! If you already have less aid than your COA, you probably won’t be getting more just by increasing it.

Financial Aid Contact Information:cost of attendance explanation.jpg
Walk-in appointments in Schleman Hall room 305
Call-in at 765-494-5050
Both available from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.

FAFSA: Who, What, When, How & Why?

26 Jan

fafsa
Getting you through FAFSA, one question at a time.FAFSAQs

 

  • Who

    • Who Should File a FAFSA?
      If you are interested in getting any Federal Financial Aid, including federal direct loans, you need to file the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov/  to become eligible. Federal loans are almost always preferable to private loans.  In addition, many colleges’ need-based scholarships rely on FAFSA information to verify that you are eligible. In short, everyone should file the FAFSA – even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for any federal aid

     

    • Whose Information is Needed to File a FAFSA?
      This answer depends on if you are a dependent student or not. Unsure if you’re Dependent or Independent? Check here.(Note: this is not the same as being independent for tax filing)Dependent students: You need tax information for both you AND your parents. If your parents are divorced, you need the information on whoever you receive the most support (51%) from.

      Independent students: You only need your own information unless you are married. If so, you will need your spouse’s information as well.

  • What

     

     

    • What If Things Change After I File The FAFSA?
      If your family situation has a significant change after you’ve filed your FAFSA, and any time while you’re in school, stop by your Financial Aid office to see if you qualify for a “special circumstance”.  These could include job loss, divorce, death of a parent, child birth or other unexpected situations that impact your financial status.

     

    • What Types of Federal Financial Aid are there?
      There are three main types of financial aid:
      1. Grants — Federal Pell Grants do not have to be repaid and are sometimes referred to as “gift aid”.  Grants are similar to scholarships, except that they are often for those who demonstrate financial need, where scholarships can be either merit-based or need-based.2. Student Loans — This is the type you hear about most often.  Filling out the FAFSA is required to be eligible for Federal Direct loans.  Federal loans are almost always preferable to private loans from lending institutions, because they have fixed interest rates and flexible repayment options.3. Federal Work Study (FWS) — Work study may provide you with more opportunities to find on-campus jobs. Rather than being given the funds in the beginning of the semester like loans and grants, FWS earnings are distributed to you as part of your paycheck.
  • Where

     

    • Where Do I Get the School Code and FSA ID?
      You’ll need the school code for whatever schools you are interested in applying to. They are available here. Your FSA ID is used to login and electronically sign your FAFSA.  Set it up at here.

     

    • Where Do I Get Help?
      College Goal Sunday will be held on Sunday, February 21st at 2:00 p.m. in Indiana and it provides FREE FAFSA filing assistance. It is at Ivy Tech in West Lafayette, but to find a location near you in one of the participating 42 states, go to www.CollegeGoalSundayUsa.org.  You can always call the Financial Aid office of your prospective school to ask questions as well.
  • When

    • When Can I start the FAFSA?
      You can begin the FAFSA any time after January 1st of the year you plan to attend college.  The FAFSA uses the student/parent tax information from the previous year. You can estimate the required information to beat a college priority filing date, but the info must be corrected after the taxes are complete!

     

    • When is the FAFSA Due?
      If you are a Purdue student, the FAFSA priority filing date is March 1st, so be sure to have it done by then! Other colleges (and states) have their own priority dates. Check for deadlines here.
  • How

    • How Do I Get my Financial Aid?
      Your financial aid is sent directly to your school and they will apply it directly toward your billing and send any excess aid to you to be used for books and other education related expenses. The exception is Work Study which needs to be earned by working, and is paid via a paycheck.

     

    • How Much is the Maximum That Can be Borrowed?
      Most students don’t know this, but there is a maximum amount of Federal Loans you can take out each year. There is also a maximum amount you can take throughout your college career! If you take the maximum amount for four years, there won’t be as much left for a fifth year if needed. Plan ahead!

      Remember: Everything you borrow you will have to pay back with interest for the next 10 (or more) years. For every $5,000 you borrow at 6% interest, you pay back $6,661.23 over 10 years ($55.51/ month)

    • FAFSA-brw-chart

      Chart courtesy of Penn State University

      
      
  • Why

    • Why Should I Do a FAFSA?
      Other than qualifying for grants and Federal Loans? Many state grants and institutional scholarships require FAFSA information submitted. Even if you aren’t sure, it is always worth submitting!

Your Federal Loan Repayment

19 Oct

Honest businessman

photo by: Debt.org

Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Debt.org, where she writes about personal finance and little smart ways to spend (and save) money. Alanna has an English degree from Rollins College. Join our Debt.org Google+ Community

 

As you fill out your intent to graduate forms and begin looking into the post-college future, your stomach might start to turn. You might start to panic and it may become difficult to breathe as you start imagining your monthly student loan payments. Stop, take a step back, BREATH, and let’s think about the situation.

But guess what? There’s good news!

Not only do you have a six month grace period after you leave school or drop below half-time attendance for your federal student loans, you also have numerous options for repayment plans. A grace period is a period of time after borrowers graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment where they are not required to make payments on certain federal student loans. Some federal student loans will accrue interest during the grace period, and if the interest is unpaid, it will be added to the principal balance of the loan when the repayment period begins. Repayment plans are designed to accommodate the needs of graduates entering the job market and receiving introductory salaries, while carrying the responsibility of handling additional bills, like rent, insurance, gas and groceries.

You do have options. If the standard ten-year plan with fixed payments is too much for you to handle, contact your lender to negotiate payments that match your budget. Not sure who your lender is?  You can view all your federal loans and their lenders online from the National Student Loan Database.

Which Plan Meets Your Needs?

Cartoon Family Portrait

photo by Yesenia603

Federal student loans come with a variety of repayments plans that are offering based on requirements such as income, family size, or loan type. Examples of federal loans include Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loans, which could be Subsidized Stafford loans, Unsubsidized Stafford loans, or PLUS loans. There are three main categories of repayment plans for you to consider.

First, the Graduated Repayment plan will allow you to begin making lower payments. Although, like the Standard plan, this plan must be completed in ten years, the lower payments gives you time to increase your salary. Every two years, your monthly payments will increase.

Second, if the Graduated plan is still more than you can afford, the Extended Plan allows you to take up to 25 years to repay loans. There is more flexibility with this option, as you can choose between a fixed or graduated payment.

Finally, there are four different repayment plans that consider your income as a factor. Some of these plans also consider factors like family size, spouse’s income, and total amount of loans. Although these have similar-sounding names, each has specific requirements and formulas which influence the monthly amount you will owe.

Four plans with income factors:

Federal Loan Consolidation

While you are researching different payment cycles and methods, you should consider a Federal Loan Consolidation.  A Federal Loan Consolidation allows you to merge all your Federal Student Loans into one loan.  This can include your Subsidized Stafford Loan, Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, and Perkins loans.  Once all your Federal Student Loans are merged into one loan, you will only have one monthly payment and one interest rate attributed to the loans.  As you can see, a Federal Consolidated Loan allows for an easier way to manage monthly repayment.

How Can You Prepare Now?

cartoon roadmapGet in the habit of putting a portion of your paycheck in savings now, before you start paying back your loans. This will force you to make a budget and spend less every month, so when the time for repayment comes, it will be easier to part with this percentage of your paycheck.

The money you save up during your grace period can also be used as an emergency fund of accessible cash for unexpected situations. This cushion can enable you to afford your loan payments even when you have unexpected expenses such as a flat tire, broken arm or speeding ticket. Preparing yourself for the future can protect your loan debt from growing any larger.

Make sure your loan servicer has updated information, including your phone number and email. Your servicer will need this information in order to communicate any new information on your loans, including when your next bill is due.

Choosing a plan and taking a proactive approach with your finances can help you smoothly adjust into your repayment period.

Why You Shouldn’t Panic About Your Federal Student Loans

21 May

From WiseBread New Graduate Help Center: Reyna Gobel, Student Loans Expert

www.purdue.edu/mymoney

girl surprised by letter

Photo By WiseBread

Dear Not-Yet-In-Trouble Federal Student Loan Borrower,

You might have heard that the Department of Education will be sending out letters to millions of student loans borrowers. The letters target borrowers whose grace periods are ending, as well as borrowers who exhibit signs of trouble that could lead to defaulting on their loans. If you haven’t started repayment yet but are fretting about how you’re going to possibly repay all that money — stop worrying.

I’m writing you this letter to not only give you important details about student loan repayment, but also to help you be aware of potential issues well before trouble starts.

I Defaulted — Here’s How to Avoid My Mistakes

I defaulted on a federal student loan simply because I didn’t know it existed. I had over a dozen student loans from different lenders; I forgot about one loan and went into default. It’s easy to do, but it’s also easy to avoid. Just log in to the National Student Loan Data System. You’ll see all your federal student loans on this site, along with contact information. Either arrange to pay each individually, or consolidate them into one loan. This is also a great time to get a free credit report – it can alert you to any problems you might have, like having missed a loan or bill payment.

Then, know yourself. If you can’t keep track of each individual loan, you really need to consolidate them into one loan to streamline payments (ask your loan servicer about consolidation options). Once consolidated, you can still choose a plan where payments are based on income, such as Pay as You Earn. And if you’re interested in the public service loan forgiveness program, know that it’s only available through loans originated by or consolidated with Federal Direct Loans.

Realize That Even With the Pay as You Earn Plan, You Might Have Payment Problems

The income-based Pay as You Earn repayment plan bases payments on your income and family size, but it doesn’t fully consider your expenses if your circumstances change. For example, at some point, you may have to help support a sick parent or child. You could also have bought a home when your income was higher. After a pay cut, a majority of your income could go towards your mortgage.

If you experience a financial setback, you have three options:

  • Call your servicer and see if your Pay as You Earn payment amount can be adjusted. You have to supply your income annually, and you may have forgotten to do so this year, causing your payments to set based a higher income level.
  • Ask for a deferment or forbearance, which are temporary payment breaks. Taking a break should only be done if the situation isn’t permanent. Always take a deferment when possible over a forbearance when any of your student loans are subsidized. The government pays the interest on subsidized student loans during periods of deferment.
  • If your income is lower because you took family leave for six months, you may not want to change your plan. However, for long-term pay cuts where your income-based repayment is too high for your budget, you should ask your servicer to also calculate payment options and see which payment option offers the lowest monthly payment.

Don’t Feel Embarrassed If You Don’t Know Something About Student Loans

I wrote two editions of a 240-page book on student loans, and I still don’t know everything about them. I read articles and play with the student loan repayment calculators every day. There’s always something new to learn. For instance, the public service loan forgiveness employer verification form wasn’t created until after the first edition was released. Now, thanks to that form, you can find out if you qualify for the public service loan forgiveness program right away and register for it right after you start working or after you’ve already started repayment — the choice is up to you. Never be afraid to ask your servicer questions about any of these programs.

Talk to Your Friends Who Are or Will Be in Repayment Soon

I’m not the only person who has experience with and advice about student loans. Talking to your friends can help you figure out repayment options and possibly pick better ones based on their choices and experiences. Just remember, they might have different circumstances than you, such as income level, children, or other debt that impacted their choices. Therefore, you shouldn’t copy their decisions. But you’ll be more informed and learn questions to ask your servicer. Plus, they may have missed payments, recovered, and now have advice about that. Learn from others’ student loan mistakes and victories.

The Most Important Part of This Letter?

The help you get doesn’t end here. You can tweet me anytime — @ReynaGobel — and ask questions. My articles will be posted here every week. You can ask me questions in my CollegeWeekLive web chats or get more helpful advice in my book CliffsNotes Graduation Debt.

Finally, remember you never want to receive a “dear troubled borrower” letter. The second you think you might miss a payment, talk to your servicer about options for a payment break or new repayment plan. With federal student loans, that one call will likely save your credit.

 

Reyna Gobel is a writer, author, public speaker, and student loans expert.  Her financial advice appears on Wise Bread’s New Graduates Help Center, in her video course How to Repay Federal Student Loans, in CollegeWeekLive newsletters and keynotes speeches, and in her audiobook How Smart Students Pay for School, now in its second edition. Be sure to check out her website for more helpful information on repaying your student loans.

College Seniors Week 2: Paying Your Student Loans

16 Apr

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

man jumping off dock; Text overlay: Paying Your Student Loans

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

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 

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.

Student Loan Repayment in the News This Week

16 Oct

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator and Purdue Alumna
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

b-w keyboard hand on mouse

Student loans are all over the news right now. Why? May 2014 grads are rapidly approaching repayment for their student loans! How up-to-date on your loan information are you? (I only have 25 days left in my grace period for my loans! Eek!) Check out www.purdue.edu/loans for basic loan information. You should also log into your account on www.nslds.ed.gov for detailed information on your personal federal student loans.

Once you’ve been contacted by your loan servicer, make sure to create your online account so you can keep up with your loan balance and figure out when your first payment is due. Some servicers offer a reduced interest rate for qualifying borrowers if you set up automatic debit to make your monthly loan payments.

If you have private student loans, you’ll need to check in with your lender about your repayment schedule.

From the web this week:

The Washington Post, A guide to paying off your student loans

Look here for a quick breakdown of the basics. And be sure to check out the short video at the top of the article for a simplified explanation of the different payment plans.

Forbes, What the Sallie Mae Company Split Means for Student Loan Borrowers

Have you gotten an email from Navient recently? (I have!) Sallie Mae created this company to handle their portion of the federal student loan accounts and some of their private loan accounts. In this article, Reyna Gobel explains how this split affects borrowers.

U.S. News, Know When it Makes Sense to Consolidate Student Loans

Considering loan consolidation? Read this first to see if that’s the best strategy for you.

 

MyMoney Powered by Purdue Articles on Student Loans:

Why You Shouldn’t Panic About Your Federal Student Loans by Reyna Gobel

25% Fed Student Loan Borrowers Qualify for Loan Forgiveness – Do You? by Reyna Gobel

The Definitive Guide to Pay As You Earn – A Federal Student Loan Repayment Plan by Reyna Gobel

College Seniors Week 2: Paying Your Loans by Raysha Duncan

Downside of Student Loan Default by Brandon Endsley

Five Tips for Debt Reduction After Graduation by Julie Huser

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