Are you a recent graduate? Now is just the beginning of the exciting journey of your professional life. It is also the time to prepare yourself to start repaying any student loans you may have. Here are some things you can do to get started on the right foot to successfully repay your loans.
Understand your repayment terms. Depending on the type of loan(s) you have, your repayment terms may vary. Do you have a grace period before you must start repaying your loan, and how many months is the grace period? It’s also important to know how many months you have to pay off your loan(s), what the interest rate(s) is and whether there are alternative repayment plans available to you. When you have multiple loans to keep track of, having this information organized is key. If you have multiple eligible federal student loans, you may consider consolidating them to make managing payments easier.
For your federal student loans, you can find this on the National Student Loan Data System(NSLDS) at nslds.ed.gov. NSLDS does not have information pertaining to private loans you may have received.
Know Your Loan Servicer. While you are making sure you know the terms for each of your loans, make sure you also find out who holds (or collects) your student loans. Your loans may have transferred from one servicer to another since last time you checked. For your federal loans, this information is also available on NSLDS. If you have a Federal Perkins Loan, the school acts as your lender, so contact them if you have questions.
Make sure your loan servicer has your updated contact information and knows when you leave school or graduate.
Calculate your estimated monthly payments. Use a repayment calculator like the one from Mapping Your Future. This may help you create a realistic budget until you receive your first bill from your loan servicer(s).
If you haven’t landed a job quite yet and aren’t able to pay your monthly payment, you are still responsible for repaying your student loans. It’s important that you know you have options. Contact your loan servicer(s) and learn what repayment plans and options may be available to assist you.