In Part I: Finding Financing,
we provided several steps to overcome the daunting task of paying for college. But now that you’ve got the education, you also have the loans.
Student loans payments can be big and not all of us get a job out of college that can cover them. No need to panic though. It’s completely possible to repay your student loans, even if you are facing economic hardship. Here are three questions you
need to answer when paying off student loans: What, When, and Who.
WHAT types of student loans do you have?
Knowing what types of student loans you have is very helpful, as it can affect repayment options. One important distinction is whether the loan is public (meaning the government is either the lender or guarantor of the funds) or private.
There are two major federal student loan programs: Direct Loan Program and Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL). Both offer Stafford and PLUS loans.
The Stafford Loan is the most common type of student loan that can be either subsidized (the government pays your interest while you are in school or a period of deferment) or unsubsidized (you are responsible for the
interest as soon as the funds are disbursed).
PLUS loans are made to parents and graduate students and are always unsubsidized.
Private loans are made by lenders with no government involvement. They are generally not subsidized.
WHEN do you have to start paying your student loans?
In general, you do not have to repay your student loans while you are in school (as long as you are enrolled at least half-time).
Stafford Loans: your first payment is normally due six months after graduating.
PLUS Loans: the borrower is given the option of starting repayment either within 60 days after the funds are disbursed or waiting until six months after the student has graduated or dropped beneath half-time enrollment.
Private Student Loans: talk to your lender about when you have to start repaying them.
WHO should you pay?
If you have federal student loans, you can find out where they are by checking the National Student Loan Data System.
Student loans, like mortgages, are often sold by the loan originator on the secondary market. To further confuse matters, lenders sometimes hire a servicer – a third party who collects the payments. If you are not sure who to pay, check your mail
to see if you received a notice. You can also check your credit report or call the original lender.
Dealing with student loans can be nerve racking. Not only can the loans be intimidating, but the process of paying them can be quite confusing. By answering the What, When, and Who of paying for student loans, you can find relief from the anxiety and
start down the road to paying them off.
If you haven’t already, check out Part I: Finding Financing and Part III: Repayment Plan of our series Before and After Paying for College.