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Photo by africa. FreeDigitalPhotos

That six-month grace period is quickly closing. The loans that you took out your freshman, sophomore and maybe all four years are ready and waiting to gnaw at your paycheck.

FinAid says more than $100 billion in federal education loans and $10 billion in private student loans are originated each year. That is a lot of money and maybe you’re a part of those billions.

You need to know the basics on what to expect and how to weigh your loan options after graduation.

 

Organize all of your loan information

Pull all of your important loan information and place it in a safe place. If you’re the type who loves to work with hard paper, print all of your documents out and put them somewhere you’ll remember. I chose to put my loan information in my Google Drive in a private Google Doc that I share with my parents. It’s an easy way to check my account information, passwords and make sure I am on top of all of my loans.

Call your lender

You would be very surprised how helpful those folks on the phone can be. They can answer just about any question you have. The best thing about calling your lender is that they’re typically open longer than a normal bank. My bank can be reached by phone until 8 p.m. each night which is great since I work 9-6 most days.

Loan forgiveness plans

Public Service Loan Forgiveness or PSLF is a program for people who have federal student loans that work in a wide range of jobs that are considered “public service” jobs. That category includes work in government and nonprofits. Check out this website to find out more and to see if you are or could be eligible to get those loans practically liquidated. Here is a specified list of jobs that qualify for loan forgiveness. It’s a very simple list!

Be prepared and calculate

How high is your interest rate? How much did you take out? How long do you have or want to pay the loan off? Calculate this all up and be prepared for the future. Here’s a quick site that will tell you how much you’ll end up paying at the end of your loan life.

Should you consolidate?

If you pulled out multiple loans throughout your college career, you have to option to consolidate them. This would mean that instead of finding and paying each loan off, they would combine to create one solid loan. This could possibly lower your interest rate as well. Something that I found out is that you have to apply to consolidate your loans. This would mean that you may need a cosigner as well. So, plan ahead and try to consolidate early. Remember that you cannot consolidate federal loans with a private lender!

How many loans do I have out?

The FAFSA website can tell you exactly how many federal loans are out in your name under your social security number.  You can also get a hold of Sallie Mae to figure out whether the loans you have are federal or private. Throughout your payment session, you can also grab your credit report for free each year. This will let you know how your credit is doing as you pay your debt. This score can also determine whether you can take out any more loans later in life.

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