As the cost of college increases, the need for student loans becomes more common. But all too often, students are not borrowing wisely and are left with a mountain of debt to pay off. So it pays to do your research, find out the different options and choose wisely. This article can be your starting point for your education on student loans.
Know your grace periods so you don’t miss your first student loan payments after graduating college. Stafford loans typically give you six months before starting payments, but Perkins loans might go nine. Private loans are going to have repayment grace periods of their own choosing, so read the fine print for each particular loan.
Do not default on a student loan. Defaulting on government loans can result in consequences like garnished wages and tax refunds withheld. Defaulting on private loans can be a disaster for any cosigners you had. Of course, defaulting on any loan risks serious damage to your credit report, which costs you even more later.
If you’re having trouble arranging financing for college, look into possible military options and benefits. Even doing a few weekends a month in the National Guard can mean a lot of potential financing for college education. The possible benefits of a full tour of duty as a full-time military person are even greater.
Be careful when consolidating loans together. The total interest rate might not warrant the simplicity of one payment. Also, never consolidate public student loans into a private loan. You will lose very generous repayment and emergency options afforded to you by law and be at the mercy of the private contract.
Reduce the principal when you pay off the biggest loans first. You won’t have to pay as much interest if you lower the principal amount. Pay off the largest loans first. Once you pay a big loan off, you can transfer the next payments to the ones that are next in line. By making minimum payments on all of your loans and the largest payment possible on your largest loan, you will systematically eliminate your student loan debt.
For those having a hard time with paying off their student loans, IBR may be an option. This is a federal program known as Income-Based Repayment. It can let borrowers repay federal loans based on how much they can afford instead of what’s due. The cap is about 15 percent of their discretionary income.
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.
As you can see, student loans can be the answer to your prayers or they can end up being a never ending nightmare. So it makes a lot of sense to really understand the terms that you are signing up for. Keeping the tips from above in mind can keep you from making a costly mistake.