Student loans can be the key to getting the college degree that you dream of, but they can also become a nightmare if you don’t borrow wisely. It is important that you learn all you can about loans. The advice that follows is a good starting point.
Maintain contact with your lender. Make sure you update them with your personal information if it changes. Read all of the paperwork that comes with your loan. Make sure you take action whenever it is needed. If you miss any piece of information, you may end up spending more money.
Don’t panic if you aren’t able to make a loan payment. Anything can come up and interfere with your ability to pay, such as a medical emergency or getting laid off from work. Make sure you are aware of the specific terms that apply to such circumstances, such as deferments or forbearance, which are part of most loan programs. Just know that the interest will build up in some options, so try to at least make an interest only payment to get things under control.
If you have the ability to pay more than what you owe on your loans, try to get those with the highest interest taken care of first. Basing payments on the highest and lowest amounts can make you end up paying more money later.
Know how long the grace period is between the date of your graduation and the date on which you must start repaying the loans. For Stafford loans, you should have six months. For Perkins loans, you’ll have a nine month grace period. There are other loans with different periods. Do you know how long you have?
Select a payment option that works well for your particular situation. Lots of student loans offer ten-year repayment plans. If you don’t think that is feasible, you should check for alternatives. 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 pay a percentage once the money flows in. Some balances are forgiven if 25 years have passed.
Pay off larger loans as soon as possible. The smaller your principal, the smaller the amount of interest that you have to pay. Try to pay off the loans that are large first. When you pay off a big loan, apply the payment to the next biggest one. Making your minimum payments on every loan, and the largest you can on your most expensive one, can really help you get rid of student loan debt.
For those on a budget already stretched to the max, the idea of a student loan can be scary. There are rewards programs that can help. Check out programs from Upromise such as SmarterBucks and LoanLink. How much you spend determines how much extra will go towards your loan.
As you’ve read, there is much to think about when dealing with student loans. The decisions that you make can follow you for many years after graduation. Borrowing properly is best, so use the tips above when dealing with student loans.