Know What You Owe - Learn How to Repay Your Student Loans

debt-1376061_1280.png

For those of you who recently graduated from college in the month of May, you are about to enter the world of loan repayment. Don’t be afraid, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Here are a few tips on how to get started. Or, if you are someone who is still in college and want to have an idea what to expect when you graduate, feel free to take a look.

Know What You Owe

Visit NSLDS Student Access for your complete loan history. Keep in mind this history is only for your federal student loans. If you have any private loan(s), you will need to contact the lender that you borrowed the private student loan(s) from. On the NSLDS Student Access website you will see each type of federal loan you have borrowed. Other information listed but not limited to is the outstanding principal balance and interest of the loan, loan servicer, and interest rate. This information is broken down for all federal loan types with a total at the bottom. When you see your total loan amount don’t panic. Let’s move to the next step.

Create a Budget

Creating a budget will help you determine how much you have available to pay a monthly loan payment. Basically, you will need to determine the total amount of income you bring home in a given month versus the total amount of expenses you have per month. Whatever is left over is available to pay your monthly loan payment. To get started with a budget, you can download a personal budget template from Excel.  Most banks have an online budget feature that works with your bank accounts and automatically populates each field you create, or you can search for budgets online and find one you like. Whatever budget template you decide to use, it is important that you take the time to categorize all your expenses in order to know where your money is going and how it is being used. Once you have an idea how much money you can dedicate to your monthly loan payment, you are ready to review the different types of repayment plans.

Review Repayment Plans

There are eight different repayment plans. These repayment plans are Standard Repayment Plan, Graduated Repayment Plan, Extended Repayment Plan, Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan, Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan, Income-Based Repayment Plan, Income-Contingent Repayment Plan, and Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan. To read more about these repayment plans, visit studentaid.ed.gov. Towards the bottom of the page you will see a chart that will give you an overview of each repayment plan. Familiarize yourself with the different types of repayment plans and think about which one might be best for you.

Use the Repayment Estimator – Determine Best Repayment Plan for You

A neat feature on StudentLoans.gov, is a repayment estimator. By using the repayment estimator you can import your total outstanding loan amount from NSLDS Student Access. Once you populate the other fields, the results of your monthly payment will be listed under each repayment plan. More detail is listed for each repayment plan as well. So now that you know how much you owe, how much you can pay monthly, and what repayment plan falls within your monthly payment, it’s time to talk with your servicer.

Contact Your Servicer

There are a total of ten loan servicers. Most students will have only one loan servicer, however, if you have gone to multiple schools or received multiple degrees, you may have more than one servicer. You can know which servicers manage you loans by going to NSLDS Student Access and reviewing your loan history. It is very important that you keep your contact information up to date with your loan servicer. Do not avoid their calls or any other correspondence you may receive from them. These servicers manage your student loans. They want to help and work with you to determine the best way to repay your loans.  If you cannot afford to make a loan payment, call them. They can find other ways to manage your loans so that you aren’t a delinquent borrower.

The information in this blog post is to get you started thinking about what repayment plan might be best for you. We recommend that you speak with your servicer who can help you in more detail. Also, when deciding on a repayment plan, don’t just look at your monthly payment but also look at how much you will be paying in total. The more money you can pay towards you loan, the less you will have to repay in total. Another thing to remember is you aren’t locked into one repayment plan for the rest of your life. Right now you may only be able to pay a small amount but later down the road you are able to pay more. This is why there are a variety of repayment plans.

Be sure and download the Step-by-Step Guides – How to Access your Student Loan History & How to Use the Repayment Estimator. These guides have a bit more detail than what is in this post.

We hope you find this information helpful. Please post a comment or a question in the comment section below.