As a soon-to-be college student (or the proud parent of one), the prospect of taking out student loans can be intimidating. Grants and scholarships are great if you can get them, but they don’t always cover the full cost of tuition and books. Before you sign on the line, carefully consider your options and know what to expect.
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.
Utilize a methodical process to repay loans. Always pay on each of them at least the minimum. Pay extra on the loan with the highest interest rate. That way, you will end up spending a lesser amount overall.
Never ignore your student loans because that will not make them go away. If you are having a hard time paying the money back, call and speak to your lender about it. If your loan becomes past due for too long, the lender can have your wages garnished and/or have your tax refunds seized.
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.
Keep good records on all of your student loans and stay on top of the status of each one. One easy way to do this is to log onto nslds.ed.gov. This is a website that keep s track of all student loans and can display all of your pertinent information to you. If you have some private loans, they will not be displayed. Regardless of how you keep track of your loans, do be sure to keep all of your original paperwork in a safe place.
Select a payment option that works well for your particular situation. A lot of student loans let you pay them off over a ten year period. If this is not ideal for you, look into other possibilities. You can pay for longer, but it will cost you more in interest over time. You may be able to make your payments based on percentage of your income after you get a job. The balances on some student loans have an expiration date at 25 years.
Pay extra on your student loan payments to lower your principle balance. Your payments will be applied first to late fees, then to interest, then to principle. Clearly, you should avoid late fees by paying on time and chip away at your principle by paying extra. This will reduce your overall interest paid.
If at all possible, sock away extra money toward the principal amount. The key is to notify your lender that the additional money must be applied toward the principal. Otherwise, the money will be applied to your future interest payments. Over time, paying down the principal will lower your interest payments.
If you want to give yourself a head start when it comes to repaying your student loans, you should get a part-time job while you are in school. If you put this money into an interest-bearing savings account, you will have a good amount to give your lender once you complete school.
To stretch your student loan dollars as far as possible, make sure you live with a roommate instead of renting your own apartment. Even if it means the sacrifice of not having your own bedroom for a couple of years, the money you save will come in handy down the road.
Stay in contact with the bank who loaned you the money. You have to understand everything about the loan you owe and how you need to pay it back. Your lender will prove to be invaluable should you need more information.
Make sure that you pick the right payment option that is suitable for your needs. If you extend the payment 10 years, this means that you will pay less monthly, but the interest will grow significantly over time. Use your current job situation to determine how you would like to pay this back.
Make sure you understand what your repayment terms are. Some loans have grace periods or offer other options for unusual circumstances. You should find out what options you have and what your lender needs from you. You should research all of this before signing anything.
To ensure that your student loan funds last as long as possible, start a savings fund while you are still in high school. The more of your college costs that you can defray from your own funds, the less you have to borrow. This means you have less interest and other costs to pay over time.
To make the student loan process go as quickly as possible, make sure that you have all of your information in hand before you start filling out your paperwork. That way you don’t have to stop and go looking for some bit of information, making the process take longer. Making this decision eases the entire situation.
To maximize the return on the investment that you make when you take out a student loan, make sure that you do your very best when you go to class each day. Make sure that you are prepared to pay attention, and have your assignments completed beforehand, so you get the most from each lesson.
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