With graduation right around the corner for many-a-senior, the thoughts that occupy the minds of future grads probably revolve more around finals and parties than around repaying their loans. While graduation is absolutely a time for celebrating accomplishments, it also means that loan repayment is looming. Start planning now so that when the time comes, you’re ready and not scrambling to locate your loan paperwork.
Here are five ways you can prepare for repayment right now:
1. Locate your loans
This may sound simpler than it is. Many students lose track of their loans while in school. Whether due to neglect or the buying/selling of private loans, students can have a hard time tracking down who they owe. If you have federal loans (this includes Stafford, PLUS, Perkins) you can log in to NSLDS.ed.gov and find out all of your loan information, including who services the loan. Yes, the Department of Education outsources loan servicing, so while you may have a Direct Stafford loan, your payments may need to go to Great Lakes, for example. If you need to track down your private loans, request a copy of your credit report. This will list all of your loan lenders, plus it’s always good to know how your credit stands.
2. Research repayment plans
There are a variety of repayment plans available to federal loan holders, and some private loan borrowers, too. Federal loan repayment options range from the standard 10-year set repayment to Income Based Repayment (IBR) which is based on how much you make and your family size. So no matter what your job status, there are repayment options to help!
3. Find your postponement options
We’d all love to get our student loans out of our minds and repay them ASAP; Unfortunately, the funds aren’t always there. That’s okay – If you are having trouble landing that first “real-life” job and funds are low, you can always look into a student loan deferment or forbearance. These options allow you to postpone payment for a certain period of time while you’re experiencing hardship. Just remember, don’t defer if you don’t need to as the loans will still accrue interest in these states.
4. Start a repayment account
You know what graduation means: a graduation party. Do you know what you get at graduation parties? Money. Now I know you may want to spend this extra dough on fun things (vacations, apartment decorations, a new iPad) because after all, you’ve earned a little reward; however, it may pay to be more practical this time. Start an account to save this money now so that when repayment begins, you won’t be caught without the funds. There are even free student loan gift registry websites where people can provide monetary donations directly to your student loans! If you’re employed, make sure to add a set amount to this account every month as soon as the pay check comes in, because the more you can pay per month, the better!
5. Look into consolidation options
Consolidation is essentially a refinancing of your student loans. A couple reasons you may want to look into this option are if you want to make repayment easier by combining multiple loans into one, or to potentially lower your private student loan interest rate. Consolidation is available for both federal and private loans though you can’t consolidate these two types together. To learn more about consolidation, visit StudentLoanConsolidator.com.
So now that you know what to do, make sure to make the most of all of those fun senior year activities, because the real world is just around the corner.
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