Borrowing money for college these days seems all but inevitable for everyone but the wealthiest individuals. That is why now more than ever, it is necessary for prospective students to brush up on the subject of student loans so that they can make sound financial decisions. The material below is intended to assist with exactly that.
Make sure you keep track of your loans. You should know who the lender is, what the balance is, and what its repayment options are. If you are missing this information, you can contact your lender or check the NSLDL website. If you have private loans that lack records, contact your school.
Speak with your lender often. Make sure they know your current address and phone number. Do not neglect any piece of correspondence your lender sends to you, whether it comes through the mail or electronically. You must act right away if information is required. Missing anything in your paperwork can cost you valuable money.
Once you leave school and are on your feet you are expected to start paying back all of the loans that you received. There is a grace period for you to begin repayment of your student loan. It is different from lender to lender, so make sure that you are aware of this.
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.
Try looking at consolidation for your student loans. This can help you combine your multiple federal loan payments into a single, affordable payment. It can also lower interest rates, especially if they vary. One major consideration to this repayment option is that you may forfeit your deferment and forbearance rights.
Be careful about accepting private, alternative student loans. It is easy to rack up a lot of debt with these because they operate pretty much like credit cards. Starting rates may be very low; however, they are not fixed. You may end up paying high interest charges without warning. Additionally, these loans do not include any borrower protections.
If you have yet to secure a job in your chosen industry, consider options that directly reduce the amount you owe on your loans. For example, volunteering for the AmeriCorps program can earn as much as $5,500 for a full year of service. Serving as a teacher in an underserved area, or in the military, can also knock off a portion of your debt.
To get the most out of your student loan dollars, spend your free time studying as much as possible. It is good to step out for a cup of coffee or a beer now and then, but you are in school to learn. The more you can accomplish in the classroom, the wiser the loan is as an investment.
It seems that hardly any young student nowadays can complete a degree program without incurring at least some student loan debt. However, when armed with the right type of knowledge on the topic, making smart choices about loans really can be easy. Using the tips found in the paragraphs above is a great way to start.