Tag Archives: Student Loans

Choosing the Right Loan Repayment Plan For You

28 Nov

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 Aidwebsite.

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

How Does the PLUS Credit Check Process Work When There Is a Credit Freeze?

14 Nov

The following is from the November 3, 2017 COD Processing Update:

Credit Check Processing for Borrowers who have requested a “Credit Freeze”
As a result of recent data breach events and heightened security concerns, many consumers are understandably taking steps to protect their personally identifiable information (PII). One of those steps may be placing a “credit freeze” on their credit profile at one or more of the credit bureaus, which prevents further credit activity from occurring without additional consent.

Because a credit check is part of the process when a borrower or endorser completes a Direct PLUS Loan Request or an Endorser Addendum on the StudentLoans.gov website, borrowers or endorsers with an active credit freeze may not be able to fully complete either process and may receive an error message when the credit check is run. The borrower or endorser must remove the credit freeze first; this action cannot be done by the school or Federal Student Aid. Note: Federal Student Aid can process an inquiry at two of the three main credit bureaus (currently Equifax and TransUnion). If a borrower or endorser places a credit freeze at only one credit bureau, Federal Student Aid could still receive a credit determination based on information provided by the secondary credit bureau.

Federal Student Aid implemented additional messaging on the StudentLoans.gov website on October 29, 2017. The messaging informs borrowers and endorsers that those who have a credit freeze on their credit profile will need to remove it before completing a Direct PLUS Loan Request or the Endorser Addendum. Federal Student Aid encourages schools working with borrowers and endorsers who may receive an error during the credit check process to ask about a credit freeze as a possible cause for the error.

Schools using the “Quick Credit Check” on the COD Web Site could experience an error or “timeout” response as a result of a borrower’s credit freeze. In some cases, Federal Student Aid will not be able to return a credit check response with the origination record and will reject the record with COD Reject Edit 996 (Invalid Value). Again, when troubleshooting a credit issue with a borrower or endorser, schools may want to see if the credit freeze situation may apply.

If you have additional questions about credit check processing, contact the COD School Relations Center. ”

COD School Relations Center
1.800.848.0978 for Direct Loans
Email CODSupport@ed.gov

Repayment for May Grads Begins in November

3 Oct

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

Most student loans begin repayment six months after the student leaves school. With November coming up quickly, now is the perfect time to review your repayment options and set up your payment plan before the first payment comes due!

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

5 Habits of Successful Student Loan Borrowers

7 Sep

In 2015 student loan servicer Navient completed a study to analyze the behaviors of 6.8 million former students who are successfully managing their student loan payments.

They concluded that there are 5 key habits to staying on track to student loan payoff.

Don’t Put It Off5 Habits 22.jpg

Student loans have several options for deferment and forbearance that can be utilized if your circumstances necessitate taking a break from payments. If your situation is difficult they can work with you to help reduce your payments or even put them on pause. However, they recommend not doing so unless it is truly necessary.

By keeping deferments and forbearances to a minimum, you can reduce the total cost of your loan and shorten the total time that you are repaying it!

Borrowers who use less than six months of forbearance are almost twice as likely to successfully repay than those who take longer postponements. If you need it, use it! Just remember that the loan will still be there when the forbearance ends and you’ll need a plan to repay it then!

Stay Connected

Borrowers who track their progress tend to be more successful in repaying their loans. Just by checking in regularly into your online student loan account can help you stay on track of your loans. It makes you more aware of your current balance, allows you to explore and renew payment plans, and gives you valuable tax information in addition to other useful tools they provide.

Also be sure to provide your servicer with up-to-date contact information so that any communication they send you reaches you in a timely manner! You never know when a time-sensitive document may be on its way.

Graduate

Nothing is more important to getting a return on your educational investment than graduating! 

When you’re still in school, maximize your meetings with your advisor and take 15+ credits per semester to graduate on-time! Extra years in college cost over $138,000 in lost wages, retirement savings and your tuition for the same degree.

However, even for those who didn’t graduate with a degree successful repayment can still be within reach. If college is still in your future, come up with a plan on how you will pay for your degree (including all portions of the Cost of Attendance) to help ensure you graduate and prevent any surprises while you’re still in college.

Stick with Repayment

the longer that you can make payments on your student loans, the more likely you are to successfully repay them. Even when times are tough, continuing to make even small payments is an important factor in completing your repayment.

Whether it on the standard repayment plan, or one of the income-driven plans available, even a small percentage of your discretionary income can keep you on-track with your repayment. Missed payments will damage your credit and cost you more over the life of the loan. 

Talk to Your Servicer

Your student loan servicer is there to help answer your questions and get you through your repayment successfully. Borrowers who reach out with their questions tend to be more successful with their repayment.

9 times of 10, Navient finds that when they talk to a federal loan customer they can help them avoid default and enter into an affordable payment plan. 

If you have any concerns about missing payments, details or enrolling in different payment plans, or just general questions about your loans, engage with your servicer!

Source: 5 Habits of Successful Student Loan Borrowers, Navient Solutions, Inc.

Releasing Your Cosigner from Private Student Loans

31 Aug

If you have a private student loan through a bank, credit union, or other lender odds are you will be part of the 90% of private student loans that require a cosigner. While the cosigner is meant to be an extra guarantee to the lender that the loan is repaid, it’s fair to assume that you’re no longer a risk for the lender not getting paid back after you’ve graduated, have a steady job, and have been steadily making on-time payments.Cosigner Release

Now that you’re on your feet, it would be nice to be able to release your cosigner from your private student loans. Releasing a cosigner from a student loan means that they are no longer tied to the loan and it won’t appear on any credit checks or leave them on the hook in the event of a catastrophic incident that leaves the student permanently disabled or dead. Not to mention, if your cosigner were to die or declare bankruptcy, it could automatically put your loan into default even if you are on-time with payments.

Remember, removing your cosigner from your loan won’t harm you as the student in any way! The loan will still have the same impact on your credit regardless of whether there is a cosigner or not. So whether your co-signer is a parent, or one of the 30% of cosigners who are a non-parent, releasing them of the liability is something nice you can do for them after they put their neck out for you.

Every lender has different methods to release cosigners, if they do so at all. There are, however, some standard things that most lenders like Sallie Mae or Wells Fargo will review when considering releasing your cosigner.

In addition to having graduated from college and being a US Citizen, they’ll take a look at your employment, income, payment history, credit score, and ability to assume full responsibility for the loan.

Remember that the release isn’t guaranteed, with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau reporting a high number of rejections from lenders. But the opportunity to relieve you and your cosigner of the potential issues from unfortunate circumstances is worth contacting your lender and filling out some paperwork.

Do Student Loans Die with the Student?

29 Aug

Casey Doten, Purdue Financial Aid Administrator

Student Loan Death Discharge 2.jpg

What happens to my student loans if I die or are permanently disabled?

It’s not a thought most of us want to visit but, like many personal finance topics, you’ll want to be prepared in case of the unfortunate and unforeseen. If you have student loans, you should know if your loan burden could be passed on to someone else.

So do your student loans die with you? It depends…

There are a few different types of student loans you might have and many of them treat discharge for death or permanent disability differently.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans are the most common form of student loans, with 42.3 million borrowers totaling over $1.3 trillion between Federal Direct, FFEL, and Perkins loan programs.

Fortunately, federal student loans are also the most lenient in almost all situations – death forgiveness included. If you pass away, or suffer from total permanent disability, all federal student loan debts in your name are discharged.

In order for this to occur, you or your survivors will need to contact your loan servicer and make them aware of the circumstances. The servicer will likely request third party documentation of the circumstances such as a certified copy of a death certificate, a letter from a doctor, or proof of unemployment or disability benefits to go along with Total & Permanent Disability Discharge application in the event of disability.

This applies to all federal loan programs, including Federal Direct Stafford Loans (both subsidized and unsubsidized), FFEL Loans, Perkins Loans, and Graduate and Parent PLUS Loans.

Of note to Parent PLUS borrowers: If either the parent or the student the loan was borrowed for become eligible for a death discharge this benefit can be applied to the Parent PLUS loan. Just note that in the case where a parent borrower has the loan forgiven for their student they will receive a 1099-C form from the IRS and the cancelled debt will be treated as a taxable income. While better than repaying the debt, you will want to prepare for what may be a large tax bill.

Private Student Loans

This is where things get tricky. All private student loan lenders have their own rules when it comes to their own loans. While there are some protections that are mandated by the government, discharge due to death or total permanent disability is not one of those.

Some lenders will seek to recoup the loan from your estate. Others, like Wells Fargo, Sallie Mae, NYHELPs, and some other lenders do offer loan discharge in the event of the death of the student. Next time you speak to your lender, you may want to ask them if they have a similar program.

What About Cosigners?

Your lender will likely seek payment from your cosigner in the event of your death or any other circumstances that render you unable to pay on your student loan. Cosigners are legally responsible for the debts they sign on to and unless the lender discharges the loan, they will be on the hook for the sum – possibly on an accelerated repayment schedule.

However, you can head this off a couple of ways. After being out of college a couple years, you may want to look into a cosigner release from your lender which removes their name from the loan. Once that takes place, the loan will solely be in your name.

A second option would be if your cosigner is one of your parents, for them to take out a life insurance policy for the amount they are cosigned on to. This can be a low-risk way to hedge against the possibly terrible combination of losing a child then being given a large bill immediately after.

How Does Marriage Impact?

If your spouse takes out student loans and passes you are likely in the clear unless you live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin). If you live in one of the states listed, you may be liable for your partner’s debts after their passing.

Most of the time, however, unless you are a cosigner on the loan neither you not joint assets in the estate will not be held liable for the loan if your partner passes away.

All in all, it’s a situation none of us hope we ever have to confront. Thankfully there are some protections built in for many student loans that can keep a terrible situation from becoming even worse. Even if your lender doesn’t have discharge written into their loans, it is always worth giving them a call and seeing if there is anything that can be done in the event this unfortunate situation becomes a reality.

 

Reviewing Your Student Loan Summary

10 Jul

Many Purdue students received a summary of their estimated student loan debt recently via email. While it may be a sobering reminder of your current student loan load, it can be a good time to think about your loan debt.DFA logo

Knowing what you owe in total and your monthly payment will be important as you plan your future. Being mindful of your debt compared to your future earnings is crucial in making the investment in your education worthwhile.

Most experts recommend keeping your loan payments below 20% of your monthly income, or they will become a massive financial burden. A good approximation for repayment is that your monthly payment equals roughly 1% of what you borrow, or about $100 every month for borrowing $10,000.

42% of college seniors expect to earn more than $50,000 in their first job out of college, but only 23% of employers actually pay this amount to new grads. It’s important to keep in mind the average salary in your field is just that, an average, not necessarily the starting wage.

When it comes to repaying your loans, paying more than the minimum will go a long way in shortening your repayment length. If you do so, be sure to utilize the best payment method that works for you either targeting the smallest debts or the highest interest rates first. If your minimum payments are looking higher than you can afford, consider going on an income-driven repayment plan to help keep your loan from becoming too big of a burden.

As you go through school, keep in mind that there is a borrowing limit for federal loans. While the actual limit varies by dependent and independent status, as well as being a graduate student, for most dependent undergrads it is $31,000. However, due to yearly limits on borrowing most students don’t have to worry about this unless they end up attending for more than four years.

Be sure to average 15+ credits per semester in order to stay on track for a four year graduation, only one extra year can cost you over $138,000 in extra tuition, lost wages, and lost retirement savings.

If you have money from working in the summer and are wondering how you can pay down your loans, the first step is finding out which loan servicer has your loans. Once you have their information, you should be able to set up an account and make your payments online!

NSLDS1.2

Hopefully the loan debt summary has given you good information to borrow smart now and know your options for repayment in the future. Remember, you can always contact the Financial Aid office during our business hours (8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday) by calling or stopping in for any reason, or if it’s not a pressing matter feel free to email us at facontact@purdue.edu.

 Student Loans: Responsible Borrowing

29 Jun

Melissa Leiden Welsh, Ph.D., CFCS, CPFFE | University of Maryland

responsible borrowing.jpg
If you are planning to attend college, a trade school, or some type of post-secondary training after high school, you will also likely apply to obtain student loans. The challenge is to select loans that match your financial needs, not only when you are a student but also when you are earning an income following graduation.

Student loan debt has generally been considered “good debt” due to a borrower’s increased earning ability upon graduation. However, the amount of outstanding debt should be proportional to a student’s projected earning ability. Check out the following suggestions to keep from falling into student debt traps.

1. Evaluating Post-Secondary School Options

There are many things to consider as you look at educational opportunities and the decision should not be taken lightly.

Do

  • Look at different types of post-secondary school and make sure you fully understand the costs (i.e., tuition and fees, room and board) associated with each one. It’s okay to “shop around” for schools.
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FASFA is the gateway to federal student loans.
  • Examine and evaluate federal loan options. Federal loans will almost always offer lower interest rates than private loans, and you may be eligible for loan forgiveness programs, or more flexible repayment options.
  • Shop around for private loans if you don’t qualify for enough federal student loans. Even a slightly higher interest rate of 0.5% to 1% more can add up over extended repayment periods.
  • Examine potential career earnings upon graduation specific to your field of study. Some fields of study do not pay as much upon graduation as other fields. You may struggle to pay loans from an expensive post-secondary institution with a low paying career.
  • Get a copy of your free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com to check for unauthorized action with your personal information. You may not even have a credit report at this time, but checking it will ensure you have not been a victim of identity theft.

Don’t

  • Overlook public in-state colleges and training facilities as they often charge lower tuition with degrees matching your career goal and financial budget.
  • Select colleges or post-secondary training sites due to a friend’s enrollment. While it is difficult to change social settings in life, it is far worse to study for a degree/certificate in a field you are not truly interested in studying.

 

2. Before Signing Loan Documents

Student loans are ultimately your responsibility to repay, so make sure you are paying attention when borrowing.

Do

  • Limit borrowing to the amount you need to cover tuition, books, and educational supplies.
  • Keep a running total of loans accruing from year to year. Only looking at semester or yearly totals may leave you surprised and overwhelmed with the final summary loan total at graduation. You can use the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS) to check your Federal loan balances.
  • Keep a folder of all student loan related forms and information brochures, preferably both physical and digital. It is not only convenient to be able to find everything in a single folder, but also can be helpful when planning and evaluating repayment options.
  • Some loans require actions to keep loans in deferment/forbearance (no payments required) while remaining as an enrolled student.
  • Keep your contact information current with each lender. It is your responsibility to report a change in your address to the lender. A lack of current address is NOT an excuse for missing a loan payment.
  • Understand the terms of the agreement in regards to how loan amortization works, how interest will be charged, and if interest will be added to the principal of the loan, commonly referred to as capitalization. Some private loans capitalize more frequently than federal loans.

Don’t

  • Turn to the signature page and sign without reading all the text of the contract you are signing.
  • Use extra funds from the refund check for pizza nights, spring break, drinks with friends or shopping trips. These expenses will cost you more because of interest.

 

3. Searching for Jobs and Preparing to Graduate

It is important to consider your student loans as you near graduation and begin looking for your first post-secondary school job.

Do

  • Work hard to graduate on time. Extra years at school mean additional student loan costs and lost years of earning. 
  • Make a spending and saving budget to follow after graduation. Determine potential costs to help guide your financial decisions such as housing. It is important to look at the interest rate of each loan and work to pay off higher interest rate loans first versus small loans with low interest rates to potentially save thousands of dollars in interest costs.
  • Visit the Student Loan Estimator to determine your estimated loan repayment totals.
  • Examine and evaluate various repayment plans. Schedule an appointment with your university loan department to determine available options.
  • Read all correspondence from loan providers thoroughly before deciding to consolidate loans – some loans are ineligible for loan forgiveness programs once consolidated with non-eligible loans and loan consolidation does not necessarily lower interest rates.
  • Be cautious when deciding to pay for loan consolidation as many federal programs and some private banks offer free loan consolidation. You may receive solicitations via the mail that offer to do it for a free, but it is always free to do yourself for federal loans.
  • Explore tax credits for student loan interest payments.
  • Choose to sign up for automatic draft payments from your bank account. Automatic payments reduce the possibility of late payments and are often rewarded with lower interest rates too.

Don’t

  • Consider not paying your loans on time. Default on student loans can greatly impact your credit report. Lenders and other businesses use the information in your credit report to evaluate your applications for credit, loans, insurance, employment or renting a home.
  • Extend loans to a longer repayment time to simply have a lower monthly payment. Those extra months and years will quickly add additional interest costs beyond the principle.

 

Resources

U.S. Department of Education Blog

Student Loan Hero

Edvisors Network

Who Owns Your Student Loans?

6 Jun

Carrie L. Johnson, Ph.D. | North Dakota State University

When leaving college, whether you are graduating or taking some time off, it is important to know how much you owe in student loans and who you will be paying back. You may have kept track over the years, or maybe you didn’t. There are two types of student loans: federal and private. This fact sheet will show you how to determine the amount of student loans you owe and who you need to pay.

Federal Student Loans

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) website is the best place to start when looking for history on your federal student loans (Direct Loans and Perkins Loans). To access your student loan information, you need your FSA ID to log in.

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The main page is broken down into four sections:

  1. Summary information for borrower; this includes your enrollment status and the date that status became effective.

  2. The next section will have any “warnings” that may be on your account such as nearing your aggregate borrowing limit or if you are in default on your loans.

  3. The Loans section lists every federal loan you have ever had and totals for your federal loans.

  4. Section 4 shows your Pell Grants.

To identify your loan holders and repayment amounts, focus on the third section shown below.
nslds4

By clicking on the blue button with the number in the first column you can see even more details about your loan. You will be shown the type of loan, what school you were attending when the loan was obtained, various important dates, amounts, disbursements and statuses, and your servicer information. The servicer is who you contact about repayment.

There are currently ten servicers the Department of Education uses for Direct Loans; you can find a list here. The servicer on a Perkins Loan is typically the school that extended the loan. However, some schools do have outside servicers or assign your loan to Department of Education. The example below shows what the servicer section on NSLDS looks like.

nslds3

Private Student Loans

The best way to determine information about the status of private student loans is to obtain a copy of your credit report. The credit report will include will total amount owed and the name of your lender. A free copy of your credit report can be requested by mail, telephone, or online every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).

By going to AnnualCreditReport.com you can get access to information about your credit history, including student loan payments. You will need your personal information to log on and you will also be asked a series of security questions based on your report. You can also request your credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228 or by mail using this form.

Resources

AnnualCreditReport.com 

National Student Loan Database System

Saving for College

 

The Impact of the Potential Cut to Subsidized Student Loans

24 May

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator – Purdue University

The newest federal budget proposal has proposed reductions to several federal student aid programs including cuts to Pell Grants, Work Study, and ending the Perkins loan program, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and subsidized federal loans to students. This budget proposal in its current state would have a direct financial impact upon any student with financial need, not just those in the lowest income brackets.
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Ending subsidized federal loans would likely have the widest impact of the proposed cuts as there are currently over 29 million borrowers of these loans.

Subsidized loans are one of the most common forms of financial aid available to students who demonstrate financial need. They differ from unsubsidized federal loans because interest does not accrue on them while the student is still in school. If a student takes out a $3,500 subsidized loan their freshman year, it will still be $3,500 when they leave school while an unsubsidized loan would have accrued an extra $612 of interest in that time.

The difference becomes more stark when you compare subsidized versus unsubsidized over four years. A student taking out the maximum in federal loans each year for four years would borrow $27,000, of which $19,000 is subsidized. That student would have $27,785 of debt when leaving college versus a student who only had unsubsidized loan (which is what the budget proposal would lead to) would owe $29,353 when entering their grace period on the exact same amount borrowed, with the exact same interest rate.

Once a student begins repayment, all of that accrued interest gets added on to their loan balance and further gathers interest. For a student using the most aggressive payment plan, they will pay $2,081 more over the life of the loan because their loans were not subsidized.

Keep in mind these figures use interest rates from the past several years. Since student loan interest rates are keyed off treasury bonds rates, if the economy were to increase at the rate projected in the budget then student loan interest rates raise even higher as treasury bonds interest increases. This would further exacerbate the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

While graduating in four years is considered the norm, only 36% of students pursuing bachelor’s degrees do so. If a student takes even one more year to get their degree, the time for their interest to accrue becomes even greater. Loans for these students who can receive subsidized loans totals $32,341 on graduation, while unsubsidized-only adds up to $35,305. These two groups have a $3,513 difference in the life of the loan.

All told, subsidized loans would collectively save the 29.5 million current borrowers $45.5 billion assuming they all graduated in four years. That number only grows higher when realizing that many students take more than four years to graduate.

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