If you're getting ready to graduate, that means it's time to start thinking about repaying your student loans. Knowledge is power when it comes to repayment; knowing what to expect and staying on top of your loan payments can help you fulfill your financial goals.
To start, complete EXIT Counseling
How much do I owe?
To keep track of how much you have borrowed in Federal student loans and who services your loan on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, go to The National Student Loan Data System, the central database for student aid. You will need your FAFSA pin number to access this site. If you've taken out private loans, you'll need to contact your lender(s) to find out the total amount you've borrowed.
Calculating monthly payments
Don't forget to factor your loan repayments into your after-graduation living expenses. Think of your loan payments as a fixed cost, such as rent, utilities or car payment that you will need to include in your budget.
Use this student loan online calculator to help you determine what your monthly payments might be.
How do I know which repayment plan is best for me?
The Federal Government offerssix different plans for loan repayment: standard, graduated, extended, income based, pay-as-you-earn, income contingent and income sensitive. To find out which plan will work best for you, go online.
Take a breath and relax -- you do have some time to adjust to the real world.
After borrowers graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, loans that were made for that period of study have several months before payments are due. This period is called the "grace period." Grace periods extend between 6 and 12 months after borrowers leave school.
A few facts about grace periods:
- MostFederal Direct Loans have 6-month grace periods.
- Perkins Loans have grace periods of either 6 or 9 months, depending on when the loan was first disbursed.
- Health professions loans have grace periods of 9-12 months.
- Depending on the type of loan and when the loan was disbursed, interest may or may not accrue during the grace period.
- Repayment begins the day after a loan's grace period end. First payments will be due within 60 days after the repayment periods begin.
- Each loan has only one grace period. If borrowers return to school after the grace periods has expired, the borrowers' loans qualify for deferment while borrowers are enrolled but return to repayment after borrowers leave school. There is no additional grace period.
And finally... Make sure to repay your loans on time
Keep in the habit of repaying your loans on time and avoid default. Doing so will help you establish good credit. Good credit is important when looking for a job, renting an apartment or buying your first car. Good credit can also lead to lower interest rates and creates more options for you in the future.