Making your student loan payments on time is incredibly important. A late payment can lead to additional fees, and can wreak havoc on your credit score. Yes, it’s true. Part of your credit report is based on your ability to make payments on time, and even one late payment can add a black mark to your record which could later prevent you from financing a car or getting a mortgage.
That is why, if you notice an incorrect late payment on your student loan bill, you shouldn’t just let it go. Immediately contact your provider to dispute the charge.
The first thing you will need is documentation. Print out bank statements or credit records and highlight the dates. The best evidence you can provide is a printed copy of an online pay receipt. If you pay your bill online, you will often get an email or other such prompt from the lender’s website telling you when you made a payment. Print this page out and keep it for your records.
Contact your student loan provider or loan consolidation service to report the error. Don’t be shy if they tell you there is nothing they can do. Ask to speak with a supervisor. If it is an error on their part they are required by law to fix it. If they continue to give you the run-around, contact a credit bureau to report the charge. Send each credit bureau copies of your photo ID and bank records. Follow up to make sure the charge is removed.
Of course the best way to avoid a late charge is to be careful and diligent about paying your student loan bill on time.
1. If your lender’s website has automatic bill pay, use it. I can not recommend this any more highly. Now you have the peace of mind to have the bill paid on time without having to lift a finger.
2. If you prefer to pay your bills the old-fashioned way (i.e. mailing out a check), be sure to leave yourself at least a week before the payment is due. This gives you enough leeway to ensure your lender gets the payment on time and to fix any discrepancy which might come up in the transaction.
3. Set an alert for when you will pay your bills. If you are anything like me, your student loan bill is one of about a half-dozen bills you have every month. There’s always the possibility of one getting lost in the shuffle. For that, I recommend setting up an alert on your phone or email to remind you when you need to pay online or mail out a check. If you use Gmail, I highly recommend Google Calendar, which will send you an email and/or text message alert on the day you want to make a payment.
Any other tips to avoid a late payment? Leave them in the comments below!
ScholarshipPoints code: LATEPAY
Image credit: Katie Mangus on Flickr.