For student loan borrowers, getting started with student loan repayment can be a daunting task. It is even more challenging if they haven’t been keeping up with their loan details throughout the borrowing process. Gathering some basic information and understanding a few key facts will make the process easier. These are the questions and information borrowers need to begin the student loan repayment process.
Do You Have Federal or Private Loans?
Identifying whether you have federal or private student loans (or some of each) will help you know where to look for repayment information and resources. Stafford, PLUS, Perkins and Direct loans are all federal loans. You can find more information about federal student loans on the National Student Loan Data Center (NSLDS) website.
If the loans in question required a co-signor, they are most likely private student loans. Contact the individual lenders for details on these loans.
Do You Have an FSA ID?
Your FSA ID gives you access to all Federal Student Aid online systems and tools. It also serves as your legal signature on all loan-related documents. If you have lost or forgotten your FSA ID — or you’re not sure if you have one — you can look it up or reset it here.
Do You Know When Your Grace Period Ends?
Certain types of student loans offer a grace period of six months after your leave school or graduate before you have to start making payments. These include: Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans. PLUS loans do not offer a grace period, but may qualify for a deferment (your loan servicer can provide details). Additionally, private student loans may have a grace period depending on terms set by the lenders.
It’s important to know if your loans have a grace period and when it ends, so you’re prepared to begin making payments on time, or making other arrangements if necessary.
Have You Chosen a Payment Plan?
Your loan servicer(s) will ask you to choose a repayment plan. If you don’t specify which plan you want, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the standard repayment plan, which is designed to have your loans paid off in 10 years. Many borrowers can’t afford these payments, however. It’s important to know there are other options available, including income-driven repayment plans, which are determined by how much you’re able to reasonably afford on your current income.
Do You Need Help Figuring it All Out?
It’s challenging to navigate student loan repayment, especially if you are working with multiple loan servicers. Our online Student Loan Counseling can give you a comprehensive list of your repayment options. And if you speak with one of our certified student loan counselors, they can help you choose the right one to help you meet your financial goals.