Student loan servicers offer assistance to borrowers with making monthly payments, monitoring their progress and learning about hardship options. They may also assist with repayment plans and deferment or forbearance requests.
If you’re having difficulties with your federal loan servicer, the Department of Education provides a helpline and ombudsman offices. However, if the loan is private or not federally-guaranteed, you must work directly with the lender to resolve matters.
Federal Student Loans
If you’re searching for federal loans to finance school, filling out the FAFSA is a must. This application determines your eligibility for various forms of aid from the government – both subsidized and unsubsidized student loans included.
If you qualify for a federal loan, the government will cover any interest on your student loan while in school and during any deferment or grace period (the six months after graduation or leaving school before payments must start) until repayment begins. When it’s time to start repaying, any capitalized interest must be repaid by you.
Federal student loans come with various repayment terms, ranging from 10 years to 30 years depending on the loan type and plan you choose. Some plans offer flexible payment plans that take into account your income and family size to make monthly payments more manageable.
Private Student Loans
Private student loans are available from banks, credit unions and other lenders. Based on your credit score, income and other factors, they provide customized interest rates and terms tailored to fit your needs.
Students who don’t qualify for federal student loans, lack a cosigner, or need more money than what federal loans can provide may benefit from private loans. While these tend to have higher interest rates and repayment terms than federal ones, private loans may be ideal options for some borrowers.
To apply for a private student loan, you’ll need to submit an official application to the lender. Typically, this can be done online through an application, but some private lenders offer pre-qualification as an incentive before submitting full documents.
Cosigning a Student Loan
If you’ve been asked to cosign a student loan, it’s important to consider the financial repercussions. Your credit may be affected, which could negatively affect other types of loans or even qualify you for mortgage financing.
Furthermore, cosigning a student loan can strain your relationship with the person who asks you to be their cosigner. If they default on the loan, it could cause strained bonds and foster feelings of resentment.
If you’re uncertain about cosigning a student loan, talk to your child or loved one about their expectations for repayment and then assess if it makes sense for everyone involved.
Repaying a Student Loan
Repaying your student loans is an essential step in guaranteeing that all education expenses are met and you can continue pursuing your educational objectives. Furthermore, it protects your credit.
Repayment for student loans varies, depending on the type and length of time. Federal borrowers have two plans available: a standard 10-year plan or an extended repayment option that allows you to spread payments out over 25 years.
If you’re having difficulty making monthly payments on your student loan, consider shifting the frequency of payments and making extra payments. Doing so may reduce your interest rate and help pay off the loan sooner.
Borrowers who are having difficulty making payments should reach out to their servicer immediately. They may qualify for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan which could make payments more manageable, or else explore other options like deferment or forbearance.