The offer of so much assistance toward your college aspirations is likely to seem like a dream come true. However, there are things you must consider before deciding to take on such debt. Think carefully when choosing your repayment terms. Most public loans might automatically assume a decade of repayments, but you might have an option of going longer. Refinancing over longer periods of time can mean lower monthly payments but a larger total spent over time due to interest. Weigh your monthly cash flow against your long-term financial picture.
Tips to consider:
- Do not hesitate to “shop” before taking out a student loan. Just as you would in other areas of life, shopping will help you find the best deal. Some lenders charge a ridiculous interest rate, while others are much more fair. Shop around and compare rates to get the best deal.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions about federal loans. Not many people understand what these types of loans can offer or what their regulations and rules are. If you have any questions about these loans, contact your student loan adviser. Funds are limited, so talk to them before the application deadline.
- If you choose to pay off your student loans faster than scheduled, make sure that your extra amount is actually being applied to the principal. Many lenders will assume extra amounts are just to be applied to future payments. Contact them to make sure that the actual principal is being reduced so that you accrue less interest over time.
- Consider using your field of work as a means of having your loans forgiven. A number of nonprofit professions have the federal benefit of student loan forgiveness after a certain number of years served in the field. Many states also have more local programs. The pay might be less in these fields, but the freedom from student loan payments makes up for that in many cases.
- Be sure your lender knows where you are. Keep your contact information updated to avoid fees and penalties. Always stay on top of your mail so that you don’t miss any important notices. If you fall behind on payments, be sure to discuss the situation with your lender and try to work out a resolution.
- When deciding how much money to borrow in the form of student loans, try to determine the minimum amount needed to get by for the semesters at issue. Too many students make the mistake of borrowing the maximum amount possible and living the high life while in school. By avoiding this temptation, you will have to live frugally now, but will be much better off in the years to come when you are not repaying that money.
- When you begin repayment of your student loans, do everything within your power to pay more than the minimum amount each month. While it is true that student loan debt is not viewed as negatively as other sorts of debt, getting rid of it as early as possible should be your objective. Reducing your obligation as quickly as you can will make it easier to buy a home and support a family.
- Try to make your student loan payments on time. If you miss your payments, you can face harsh financial penalties. Some of these can be very high, especially if your lender is dealing with the loans through a collection agency. Keep in mind that bankruptcy won’t make your student loans go away.
Student loan deferment is an emergency measure only, not a means of simply buying time. During the deferment period, the principal continues to accrue interest, usually at a high rate. When the period ends, you haven’t really bought yourself any reprieve. Instead, you’ve created a larger burden for yourself in terms of the repayment period and total amount owed. Starting college means making important decisions, but none are quite as important as thinking about the debt you are about to take on. Borrowing too much at too high a rate can be a serious issue. Don’t neglect the information in this article; use it to help yourself make smart decisions.