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A time to borrow, a time to repay ... timely advice

This can be an overwhelming time of the year for students getting ready to graduate as they job search and plan for life after college. For many, this planning includes the repayment of student loans. Here are four tips your student should use to manage student loan repayment.

  1. Determine exactly what is owed and to whom

There are a few websites that can help you get a total of loans borrowed. To get a complete listing of federal loans (Stafford Subsidized/Unsubsidized, Perkins and Parent/Grad PLUS) visit www.nslds.ed.gov. Your student will need their federal PIN number. Once logged in, they will be able to see all loan balances and contact information for their loan servicers. For private loan debt, pulling your student’s credit report is the best way to get a complete listing. A free credit report can be obtained once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com. Be sure to pull reports from all three credit agencies, as you will find each one in itself is not always exhaustive.

  1. Find out when repayment starts

With federal loans, most students will have a six-month grace period after graduation. This means that they have six months before repayment begins on their loans. Most private loans also have a six-month grace period. Official repayment-begin dates can be found by contacting loan servicers. Many have online platforms that allow borrowers to monitor and pay their student loans on the web. Take advantage of this!

  1. Determine what repayment options exist

Standard repayment on student loans is typically 10 years, but other options usually exist. Stafford Subsidized/Unsubsidized loans provide several plans for repayment to recognize borrower income and abilities. The website www.studentaid.ed.gov provides a good overview of repayment options. Income-based repayment is a newer repayment option that borrowers may want to investigate. This option limits the borrower’s monthly federal student loan payment to 15 percent of the borrower’s discretionary income. Visit www.ibrinfo.org for more information and methods for determining borrower eligibility. For private loan repayment options, borrowers will want to contact the lender of their private loan and ask about existing options.

  1. When in doubt or confused, ask!

The financial aid office at Northern is always happy to assist with any student loan repayment questions for our alumni. Also, don’t be afraid to call lenders and/or servicers and ask questions. Remind your students that their repayment of student loans is tied to their credit report. It’s important to always stay on top of payments. If they are struggling to make payments, they should always contact their lender and ask about options.