The cost of a college degree can be a daunting amount. Fortunately student loans are available to help you but they do come with many cautionary tales of disaster. Simply taking all of the money you can get without considering how it affects your future is a recipe for disaster. So keep the following in mind as you consider student loans.
If you are having a hard time paying back your student loans, call your lender and let them know this. There are normally several circumstances that will allow you to qualify for an extension and/or a payment plan. You will have to furnish proof of this financial hardship, so be prepared.
When it comes to student loans, make sure you only borrow what you need. Consider the amount you need by taking a look at your total expenses. Factor in items like the cost of living, the cost of college, your financial aid awards, your family’s contributions, etc. You’re not required to accept a loan’s entire amount.
Keep in touch with the lender you’re using. When you make changes to your address or phone number, make sure you let them know. Anytime you receive a phone call, email or paper letter from your lender, pay attention to it as soon as it is received. Take whatever actions are necessary as soon as you can. You may end up spending more money otherwise.
It is important for you to keep track of all of the pertinent loan information. The name of the lender, the full amount of the loan and the repayment schedule should become second nature to you. This will help keep you organized and prompt with all of the payments you make.
If you are moving or your number has changed, make sure that you give all of your information to the lender. Interest begins to accrue on your loan for every day that your payment is late. This is something that may happen if you are not receiving calls or statements each month.
If you choose to pay off your student loans faster than scheduled, make sure that your extra amount is actually being applied to the principal. Many lenders will assume extra amounts are just to be applied to future payments. Contact them to make sure that the actual principal is being reduced so that you accrue less interest over time.
Learn the requirements of private loans. You should know that private loans require credit checks. If you don’t have credit, you need a cosigner. They must have good credit and a good credit history. Your interest rates and terms will be better if your cosigner has a great credit score and history.
Know how long you have between graduation and the commencement of loan payments. For Stafford loans, the period is six months. For Perkins loans, the grace period is nine months. Other loans vary. It is important to know the time limits to avoid being late.
Pick out a payment option that you know can meet the needs you have. Many student loans offer 10-year payment plans. If this doesn’t work for you, you may have other options. For example, you might have to take a while to pay a loan back, but that will make your interest rates go up. You can put some money towards that debt every month. After 25 years, some loans are forgiven.
To keep your student loan load low, find housing that is as reasonable as possible. While dormitory rooms are convenient, they are often more costly than apartments near campus. The more money you have to borrow, the more your principal will be — and the more you will have to pay out over the life of the loan.
Take advantage of student loan repayment calculators to test different payment amounts and plans. Plug in this data to your monthly budget and see which seems most doable. Which option gives you room to save for emergencies? Are there any options that leave no room for error? When there is a threat of defaulting on your loans, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
The information above is just the beginning of what you should know as a student loan borrower. You should continue to educate yourself about the specific terms and conditions of the loans you are offered. Then you can make the best choices for your situation. Borrowing wisely today can help make your future that much easier.