5 Things You Need To Know About Your Student Loans

info-person at computerIf you’re anything like me, you probably neglected to read all the fine print when you first took out your student loans. Now it’s time to start repaying them, and you have no idea where to begin…

Lucky for people like us, many federal student loans have a grace period, which is a set period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment before you must begin repaying your student loans. The grace period gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment plan. For those of you who have graduated within the last six months, chances are that time is almost up.

So to get you started, here are five things you should know about your student loans:

  1. Loan Types

You may have federal loans, private loans, state loans, loans from your school, or some combination. Different loan types can have very different terms and conditions, so be sure you know what types of loans you’ve got.

To see all of your federal student loan information in one place, you can visit www.nslds.ed.gov. Once you log in, you can access a list of your federal student loans, including the loan type and information for your loan servicer.  A loan servicer is the company that will handle the billing and payments on your federal student loans.

For all other types of loans, consult your records. If you have questions about the type of a loan, you can try contacting the financial aid office at the school you were attending when you took out the loan.

  1. Loan Balance

Once you’ve tracked down all of your loans, you’ll want to find out what your total loan balance is. This will help you determine a plan for repayment.

For your federal student loans, www.nslds.ed.gov will display your loan balance. For private and other student loans, you’ll want to check with your lender.

  1. Loan Interest

Remember, a student loan is just like any other loan—it’s borrowed money that will have to be repaid with interest. As interest accrues, it may be added to the total balance of your loan if left unpaid. As a recent graduate, you may want to consider making student loan interest payments during your grace period to save money on the total cost of your loan.

  1. Repayment Options

Depending on the types of loans you have, you will have different repayment options.

Federal student loans offer great benefits, including flexible repayment options. Some options include tying your monthly payment to your income, extending your payments over a longer period of time, or combining multiple loans into one.

Want to compare what your monthly payment would be under each of our repayment plans? Try our Repayment Estimator! Once you figure out which repayment option is right for you, contact your loan servicer to enroll in that plan.

For non-federal loans, you’ll want to check with your lender to see what types of repayment options are offered.

  1. Repayment Terms and Benefits

Familiarize yourself with the repayment terms of all your loans. Here are some things to keep an eye out for:

Ok, that’s a lot to take in, but hey, if you could survive the final exams, the all-nighters and even a crazy roommate or two, figuring out a plan for repaying your student loans should be a walk in the park. If any point you have questions or need advice, don’t hesitate to contact your loan servicer. That’s what they’re there for.

Nicole Callahan is a new media analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.

94 Comments

  1. Thanks for summarizing the important points when dealing with loans. Still, they are funds invested into the future of students and so this funds must be repaid in order to make it a viable program and for future students.

  2. PRO TIP: Do your research before deciding on a degree – remember folks, if you earn a worthless degree (determined its R.O.I.) you will still owe that monstrosity of a loan for the remainder of your life. If you do not have a career path that will earn you enough money to pay back the loans then you should not attend college or choose a different career path.

  3. Contrary to popular belief, student loans can be discharged through bankruptcy. When you file a personal bankruptcy, you also file an adversary with the court to determine if your student loans can be discharged. Although everyone says you can’t win, that is not true. More than 60% of those who file an adversary have all, or part, of their students loans discharged through bankruptcy. More and more people are successful at having their student loans discharged through bankruptcy. It costs nothing to file an adversary. You can do it yourself. So, if you find yourself faced with personal bankruptcy, be sure to include your student loans. You have every right to also have them discharged. Many free articles on the web tell you have to do this. Simply search phrases, like “bankrupt your student loans.” Conservatives should be staunch supporters of returning student loans to being included in a standard bankruptcy. The founders of this country believed in bankruptcy and included it in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The founders wanted to eliminate debtor prisons and understood the need to facilitate citizens gaining a “fresh start” from financial troubles. Remember, if you don’t include your student loans in a personal bankruptcy, you may be stuck with them your entire life.

    Academic research has revealed that the Department of Education expects a default rate reaching 30-40% of all student loans over their lifetime– not the 2-3% often quoted. This is a debacle. Student loans used to be included in a standard bankruptcy. You can still bankrupt student loans by using the adversary process. You can learn about the process from free articles on the web. Simply search for “bankrupt your student loans” or similar phrase. Remember, the founders of this country believed bankruptcy was a basic right and included it in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. That right has slowly been taken away. Let’s restore full bankruptcy protection for student loans.

  4. While it is admirable to present information to a student who has just graduated on how he or she can go about repaying his or her loans, it is already too late at that point. Financial literacy should be taught to students before they take out loans, not after they have already graduated. If a student is unaware of whether or not his or her loans are private or public, that student is not prepared for college. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the cost of college before deciding to take the plunge into higher education. On the other hand, college should be more reasonably priced so that fewer people will have to take out loans to afford it. As college is increasingly a prerequisite for jobs, the prerequisite should be increasingly attainable. Since there is a better time to teach students how to afford college, and reason to believe that colleges should cost less overall, this article should not be necessary.

  5. Interesting article! It is fun to see the cultural differences here. I am currently a foreign college student, I am glad that I do not have any loans and I am thankful to my parents who completely support me financially. But I would rather take gap years than taking loans if I have to pay the tuition on my own — Take a gap year and gain work experiences would benefit your future career. People complain about the wages paid with a college diploma. But I believe that the wage is paid based on the professional experiences not the degree. I mean it is still important though.

    If you take student loans you put yourself in a stressful situation after you graduate; you might need to work on that for the next 20 years in your life until pay off. You will develop your own family at the same time, possibly have kids, buy a house and cars and etc.

  6. So, this article suggest that a student will have the income to make payment arrangements. How does a student find enough income to repay student loans when all the jobs pay the same wages they offer a high school dropout. Employers in Springfield care less about education because the only jobs available are manufacturing positions that only qualification is back breaking work that a high school dropout is willing to do.

    • Jerry thanks for those comments. I am stuck in a same situation. After graduating you cannot find a job that pays a decent salary so how are you to repay your loan. You cannot even afford to rent an apartment to live much less repay your loans. What makes it even worse my parents co-sign on some of my loans and now instead of saving for retirement they are paying my loans. All the jobs i have gotten pays $9-$11.00 How am i suppose to live and pay back these loans. Help needed fast and urgent !!!!

  7. USA must provide two years Free Education for the poor American citizens! American aid is helping millions of poor students to get Free education throughout the world! why not help Americans? charity begins at home! share the wealth of the nation!
    Kerala, “God’s own country” in India provide free education for poor! why not America?
    You got the brain,you are a doctor in Kerala!
    Raju Charles
    Takoma park / Trivandrum.

    • Raju,
      you are right, why not allow for a two year free education for Americans. We would be in that position if it weren’t for all the out of county students that come to the US and get their degrees and then go back home and not repay anything. Therefor driving up the cost for everyone else. Granted there are those that do repay but not enough do to make a difference.

  8. I am the mother of twins, who just gradutated this past May. They had hopes of going away to school, but after looking at the huge price difference between (In State and Out of State tuition) the decision was easy for me. They have gotten great grades all throughout high school, with a 3.5-3.6 gpa. They received some grants and partial scholarships, but still nowhere near what is needed to attend school. They will be attending an In-State College this fall. This has been one of the most overwhelming experiences I have ever encountered (loans). My suggestion to parents is to make sure your child has a high gpa, participate in clubs, activities, volunteer in the community etc….that goes a long way when applying for scholarships. My goal was to simply get them there and now they determine what the next chapter will be. There is still hope (Dean’s List)

    • Tomeka

      I would like to offer you an alternative way of viewing education. Education is an investment. We invest in our homes by paying a mortgage. We invest in our vehicles and pay a car note. Education is the same. No one can afford it, but we invest in it for the need (shelter in a home – transportation in a vehicle) it provides us. Also the burden of parents can be lightened as they teach their children about financial responsibility through the collaborative (parent and child) repayment process for their education.

      • Except when you can’t pay for your investment in cars, houses, etc. you lose the thing you invested in. You’re stuck with your education loans regardless of whether you can use it or not. I have 200K+ from law school and can’t find a job in the legal market. If I stop paying my mortgage the bank could repossess/foreclose on my house, but I can never get out of a worthless degree I can’t use.

  9. We took out a Parent Plus Loan, and basically paid a rather low amount back for the first year, around $380 a month, into the 2nd year of our loan my January Statement had a balance due of $760. My first respones was I missed a payment, so I paid the bill. My next months payment was the same amount. This time I inquired and was told I was in a graduated payment plan and my payments increased, or should I say doubled. I have inquired about different pay backs but I am being told that because it is a parent plus loan nothing can be done. Does not make any sense to me. Any thoughts beside filing for bankruptcy?

  10. It’s amazing, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) latest oversight report, the US Goverment has given the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) more than 1 Billion Dollars worth of ammunition. This is in addition to 288 Million Dollars that has been spent on ammunition for the Afghanistan National Police (ANP). I think the One Plus Billion Dollars could have stayed here to help the students with loans, put the money in an account and have it’s gains defer the interest on student loans.

    • Why would the US Gov do that? I am paying 100% interest on my loans for the next 25 years. THen I pay tax on the forgiveness after that. THe gov has a great thing going here. They supplement an overpriced product (college), get to state they are stimulating the economy, and I pay an extra tax for the next 30 years of my life. Just another way to get us all dependent on them.

  11. You should have been aware of the facts…everyone allows their children to “go away” to school when they know they will be in debt…learn to say NO to your children and start them at a community college…

    • George

      Poor advice. Students should always be encouraged to attend the school that best suits their scholastic and professional needs not simply a community college to save money.

      • ABSOLUTELY agree. Community colleges run a very poor second best to state or private universities. Most states allow ANYONE who has graduated high school to attend community college, so as you’d expect, the curriculum is “watered down” to the lowest common denominator in the class.

        The exception is vocational type programs, like two year RN degree, Nuclear Med. tech degree, and other degrees of this nature. THEY are more choosy as to who is admitted, which is a good thing.

        What can happen if your child gets a two year A.A. degree in a community college, is that she/ he may not qualify to get into the upper division (final two years) of a particular major…..they choose their own students first of course, but also the community college students are very often NOT well enough prepared.

  12. student loans put you in debt, still without a job.What is wrong with this picture ,,,,,, Miss Government

    • I am 40k in debt with student loans. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with an AA in Business. I have been unemployed for 7 months, yet we continue to ship jobs over seas. I am not opposed to working fast food or other low wage job. The problem is that the minimum wage employers; that I have encountered, do not want to invest any time or resources in training someone with a college degree and years of office work experience for low wage positions. Therefore, I am left with having no job, and having to continue massive efforts to find employment,(with no unemployment because it has run out) or go further into debt (that I cannot pay) to get a higher degree. I am NOT living the American dream, AND I know that I am not the only one. These days, it seems like a college education is a fool’s errand.

      • You are not alone in this. There are thousands, if not more, that are in the same situation. Take your education, knowledge and skills and use them to create your own job – business. Follow your hearts desire. Do what you love and love what you do. Then use your talents, education and skills to build your income source. Having a passion and developing an income from it, will make it fun and not a chore. In all you do, strive to achieve independence.
        Financially that is: Passive Income > Expenses.
        Being 100% Responsible for Your Own Happiness.
        Taking responsibility for your actions.
        And Love the one you are with….

        • Email! Many times we make decisions to sell educate ourselves in hopes of working for someone else( which nothing is wrong with that).However, Often times we sell ourselves short of our own true potential in the process.

      • HOW did you get $40K in debt and come out of it with JUST an A.A. degree? (Two yr degree).

        That is mind boggling. You made some really questionable choices, in my opinion. You should have at least a Master’s degree to account for that much debt.

        • what kind of comment is that, 40 thousand does not add up to a masters degree that is a cheap master degree or a online master degree at best, this site is for help not negative feedback to other folks problems

          • Rob
            40K is not a cheap masters degree, what you don’t know is what that degree is in, I finished my masters in Social Work for under 25K. I paid other parts of school with hard earned cash and by the way the only online social work degree worth anything is from UCLA or USC I don’t remember but you can look it up runs about 80k. Can we say ouch…By the way I make the same pay as a social worker from that institution.

  13. My heart goes out to all hard working students who are trying to make a future for themselves and their family. it is especially difficult for older workers and women who are experiencing real discrimination, especially in IT, when trying to get a job. Hang in there. I started my own company providing IT services. While it was difficult at first, it was much easier than convincing arrogant HR people with poor communication skills and no manners that I was qualified. Most of the recruiters I talked to were IT illiterate and not capable of assessing real skill. Take your talent and use it for yourself. Create intellectual property and control your revenue. Don’t give it away to talentless, socially inept idiots who think that education, hard work, effort, and vision are an endless commodity they can easily hire. You are more valuable than that. Best of luck. go for it

    • From a parent of a senior graduating next year, great advice. I will pass it onto to her your advice and encouragement! Thank you and all the best to you!

  14. I agree with Lynda. The best way to pay for college is to pay it out of your own pockets. Or have your parents/relatives help you. Or an academic scholarship for good grades. There really is no point to getting student loans because college is not a lump sum payment (like a house). It is paid per semester, and if you can’t afford to go that semester, then skip the semester.

    That’s what I have been doing. Yeah, it takes a long time. But in the end I am debt free (for life).

    Additionally, I tend to side with students who pay with credit card. I am not saying it is right, but at least if you owe credit card, it can be discharged with bankruptcy. Student loans cannot. Oh, well.

    If you have a student loan, do your best to pay it off now. Do not get any more loans. If you are considering getting one, and you do want to go to college, take the alternative route of beginning with community college and see how many semesters you can pay off in full. Skipping semesters is allowed. I skip semesters all the time. College is not a contest to see who finishes first. It is a contest to see who finishes best.

    By the way, I get all A’s and B’s, have a 3.0 gpa and yes, will openly admit to skipping semesters when I can’t afford college out of pocket!

    • Great advice but not real. My student has over that GPA and still no scholarships or grants. Those that were funded in grants were taken away due to lost funding. Not sure where you found your funding but I would rather have loans and graduate, get a job then skip college or it take years. There is something really wrong with Congress/Senate and the President when education isn’t affording for lower or middle class and interest results are balanced on our backs. It will change one day like everything does….

    • This isn’t realistic for anyone going to a professional program like veterinary school. You either stay up with your class or drop out. Most vet students incur a large amount of debt as a result. The debt by itself isn’t bad, its the interest rate that matters. Some of these Federal unsubsidized loans are 6.5 percent.

        • 6.8% is ludicrous. This is the government gouging students. Home Mortgage rates are 4.25%. What a sad joke our country has become. By 2020, almost all graduating students will be owing payments to the government for the rest of their lives. Complete dependent state.

    • Patti,
      I don’t think bankruptcy as a fallback plan is a “better” or more-responsible option. Getting a GOOD job after college is all about networking and internships, etc. Those companies might want an estimated timeline as to when you are going to graduate. Unfortunately, “I don’t know, whenever I can afford it,” is probably not the answer big companies want to hear when they ask you when you are planning to graduate.

      Also, if you ask any financial adviser, or even simply the credit bureau, they will tell you that high interest revolving debt, a negative debt to income ratio, and using too much of your available credit, like what typically happens when a student maxes out a credit card to pay for a semester of college, is far worse than having a student loan.

  15. Some kids make very foolish career choices. They ignore the predictions for how many jobs are available in the field of their choice. For instance if you major in Religion or Theatre Arts or something, and the average pay for graduates in those areas is very low and jobs are not plentiful, you may not do well financially. Also, why go out of state to pay out of state tuition when you can go in state and save a lot of money? Some people have gone to two year community colleges and majored in things like Nursing, or Electrical or Electronics Technology, and have had a better experience with finding good paying jobs. Some college career centers have a pipeline to businesses where they have sent a lot of good employees.
    I wanted a career in Music. But, since I saw that a large percentage of Musicians would not have a place as Music teachers, (most high schools only have one or two music teachers) or as performers (if you don’t live near Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, D.C., Dayton, or Detroit, you are not near the hotbeds. If you do move there without a means to earn a good living while you get recognized, you can’t pay your student loans and with bad credit can not even get a car loan and yu will probably have to live in the dumps. So my advice is this: unless you are willing to work hard enough in high school to earn scholarships and continue the work in college, go to an inexpensive in state school.If you are immature and irresponsible (always oversleeping unless someone wakes you up, always turning in assignments late, etc.), go to a 2 year school and commute so your expenses will not get out of hand while you catch the hang of being a real adult. Last but not least, major in something that pays well and will give you the ability to earn a decent living while you pursue your other less gauranteed wage dreams. That way, you can afford to dream and you can make money while you try to make your dreams come true. Google which college majors have the best pay and the most available positions. If it pays well but there are no positions, how does that help you? Even if you have to go to school a bit and then work for a couple years before you go to grad school, if you have made good grades and you can keep up your good grades without fooling yourself in to borrowing a bunch of money and then dropping your classes because you are not yet mature, you can earn a decent living while oyou get the hang of it if you do it the right way.

    • My daughter had straight A’s her senior year but was not accepted at the state college in Florida. She ended up going to a private college. The lottery money that was supposed to help students is based on Public School rates. I now have over $50,000 of Parent Plus Loans to repay even after using partial scholarships

  16. There is a way to legitimately pay off student loans in three years, but I will be booed for mentioning it…military service….
    The U.S. armed forces offer loan forgiveness programs for select loans up to $65K. It requires three years in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard and Post 9-11 GI Bill forfeiture.
    Downside: strict lifestyle, ENLISTED service (not officer), risk of deploying to hostile fire zones, cannot quit until military obligation is complete, only for certain loans types
    Upside: free room, free board, $1200 monthly salary, low-cost insurance (health & life), and STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS…

    • As a Navy recruiter, I can tell you that the reason we don’t normally use loan forgiveness as a selling tool is because it only covers specific loans. I do, however, CONSTANTLY tell high schoolers that they should look to the military as a stepping stone. Use us to take the time after high school to discover what they really want to do, before they go to college and study something for a few years before deciding that they want to change their major, then they have to stay longer and accrue more debt for this new path they are taking. You get college credits just for serving, Tuition Assistance while you serve (I’ll be finishing up my Bachelor’s in Physics within the year), and the Post 9/11 GI bill that will pay for full tuition while getting a Basic Allowance for Housing after you get out (Yes, we will PAY YOU MONEY after you serve your 4 years). I constantly stare with amazed and confused eyes when a senior tells me that the free room and board, medical and dental insurance, REAL WORLD JOB EXPERIENCE, and world travel just “isn’t worth it to them” because they want to use loans to go to the local community college.

      • Hello Austin,
        I really hope you dont take this the wrong way but I am 28 and my husband was a corpsman in the Navy for close to 10 years. He enlisted a month after he graduated in 1998 and in 2007 after being deployed for 6 months he came home an alcoholic suffering from PTSD. My husband never even sipped a beer until he was deployed and he went about 3 years drinking daily but still maintained a full time minimum wage job in a State Mental Hospital here even with the drinking at its worst.I became pregnant and it was then that he stopped drinking and found out that he could go to school on the GI bill and it would help pay our living expenses as well. We both are in school now and our son is almost 2. We both study together at night when our son is in bed and both of us have have kept a 4.0 GPA because I have to get scholarships because my fed loans will be completely drained in November. My husband has a 4.0 because the military raised his standards in himself that anything “less than best” isn’t good enough He plans to become a nurse and me a graphic designer but… the problem we really have had is the fact that although the GI bill pays for much there wasn’t a whole lot of information we had and one semester we had to live out of our car because the military rep at his school messed up the paper work and we didn’t receive any money from the GI bill. Another problem we have had as well is the fact we both feel like we are behind in life when the people we graduated hs with are working good jobs (the ones that went on to college right after) and we have both worked our butts off in minimum wage jobs for the few uears since he left the Navy.because even with the help from the GI bill for rent and other Now we are still considered low income and it is hard to be in classes sometimes with people 10 years younger who just play on cell phones and can be really rude with no respect to the instructors or other students. Having group projects with students who are only there because mommy and daddy make them. I can’t even begin to tell you the frustrations we have endured wondering if we are going to even have a roof over our heads waiting on the money as well. Its very hard waiting to finish school especially when we get faced every month with depending on money from the VA to get us through. Its more than what my husband was making working full time before at under $10 an hour but not that much not only that when he left the military the only places that would hire him were minimum paying jobs because of his “lack of education ” because most places didn’t care that military service IS experience but it really means nothing to employers in the civilian world…You say the same things that all recruiters say because you get paid for each person you recruit. The reality is i not “do your time and get out for an education after doing some amazing traveling… there is a transitional period afterwards that is a long road to finishing school and even getting the help to get the money promised to the men and women who served the country isn’t that easy, it takes time getting used to living as a civilian as well which can be hard and very depressing…it is embarrassing for us to have to apply for food stamps just so we can feed our son and now that both of us are fulltime students we do not qualify so I do art projects on the side to feed us during the time waiting for the check from the GI bill every three months, not to mention that its only paid in a lump sum every three months so we have to keep money orders filled out at our home so that we don’t end up going over our budget with bank fees, and anything else charged to our bank account. Also some recruiters do not even tell the young ones as they are enlisting that you have to fill out forms first so that school is even paid for. There is not a day that goes by where my husband doesn’t wish he had of gone to college right out of high school because the emotional trauma and the financial toll once he left the military has been severely hard. I wouldn’t recommend enlisting to anyone just for the education benefits because you never know if you will live long enough to use it or what damage physical or mental you may end up with as well. I recommend anyone who enlists should just serve as much time as possible and retire because the education benefits sound too good to be true because they are. Also currently with us both in school we do not have health insurance and I have a few major health problems and cannot see a doctor and my husband also has service related disabilities that since the VA clinic so backed up they can’t get him in for months at a time…i haven’t seen a doc in months and I was on insulin and heart medication but the VA won’t see spouses and because neither of us are working full time other than side jobs we can not get Medicaid…so maybe instead of tell the youth how wonderful it all is, tell them the truth. Young people deserve to know before they sign up for something that its not as easy as what you said…Im sure as a recruiter you have had friends that were told what you posted by another recruiter that didn’t make it home or were wounded. A friend of my husband is a recruiter and gets $3000 for each young minds who he recruits. Some young people will believe everything you tell them and don’t realize all these wonderful things are just tactics recruiters use to get paid…some of what you mentioned may be true but much is not the case which Veterans only learn when they are living it. Maybe include the negative parts about what CAN happen so the youth can weigh out their options so they can make an informed decision before signing on the dotted line. Dont get me wrong, the service did lots of good for us but only while my husband was still in, once he was out the tables turns and the time he put in didn’t matter. Sure people say “thank you for your service” but still won’t give you a job without an education or non service related experience…so we are over 10 years behind our friends and younger family in the civilian world because of the time he did give to this country.

        • I was in the Air Force for 7 years. They paid for my Undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Engineering. I’ve had steady, good paying jobs ever since I left.

          Just my 2 cents.

      • Don’t believe your own garbage! only SOME credits transfer from military to college! my husband is a Veteran 100% disabled as a Combat medic, when he was returned to civilian life he was not allowed to use ANY of his military service as credit!
        Never believe a military recruiter they are paid big dollars to lie to you and make you believe it!

  17. Do not ever ever get a private loan! What they did not tell me was the 11.9% interest. I received several federal loans before with a small interest rate, which I paid back. I decided to return to school because I was laid off. I had to get student loans to make this happen. I maxed the federal loan and was offered the private loan. I took them both. OH MY GOD!! Big mistake! My initial loan was for $38,000 in 2006. After deferring for 2yrs while job hunting, the loan became $50,000 by 2009. Since then I have made payments of $500 a month and as off today, 5/2013, it has gone down to $48,000. I know people who have just given up and defaulted. Not me, I WILL pay it OFF. My biggest issue is the interest rate. I wish they would reduce it. If they did, they would have more people paying off loans instead of defaulting.

    • I’m sure they did tell you it was 11.9% interest. Maybe not verbally but I can guarantee it was in writing… The biggest problem is people fail to read the paperwork they sign and dont realize what they are getting themselves into. If you are adult enough to go to college, you should be adult enough to know how to read a legal contract.

    • My experience is the exact opposite. Unless you are receiving a subsidized loan from federal gov’t, gov’t loans are more expensive than some private loans. Interest rate on unsubsidized gov’t loan is 6.8%. We live in Connecticut. My daughter went to U. of Michigan and has a private loan, serviced by Firstmark, with an interest rate of 6.5%. My son went to a private school in Maryland, Washington College, and he has a private loan, also serviced by Firstmark, with an interest rate of 5.5%. The interest rate was very clear when they signed the documents as well as the monthly payments.

  18. I am a parent of a high school senior who will be attending college in the fall. This topic hits home for me right now, and I appreciate this advice and information tremendously. Like millions of other Americans, my financial situation sustained a major hit in 2008 when I was laid off. Virtually all of our savings were used up in a year. It took all of a year and a half to find a new job, albeit at around 30% less income than before. There would be little chance of sending my son to college without the federal assistance which has been made available to us.

  19. Loans are expensive to repay when the starting salary is only $10. Why are people going to college in the first place? Because everyone else goes? Working experience has more weight than the degree. Go to work after school and save up for some college classes if you can’t afford college don’t go.

    • Why do people say stupid things w/o thinking first?
      “Working experience has more weight than the degree. Go to work after school and save up for some college classes if you can’t afford college don’t go.”
      You’re asking high school kids with no real world skills to go to work. Who is going to hire them besides restaurant, grocery and retail stores at minimum wage??? And even if they do get that wage, how are they going to save for college classes on a $15,000 – $18,000 a year salary?? Are you assuming they are staying at their parents home, getting fed, not paying insurance, not paying for car payment, not going out?

      Yes, it is true it is not a giving that a college graduate will get a job right after graduation, but it is a fact, statistically proven, that college graduates have a much better chance of making a decent living than non-graduates. Instead of discouraging them from going to college, tell them how to gain useful, marketable, on demand skills while in college. Tell them to look for colleges that have very good research, internship, and projects programs. Tell them to join those associations, clubs that will nurture their real skills. Tell them not to focus on GPA alone (different from high school) and look for internships, volunteer activities that will enhance their practical knowledge of the subject they are studying.
      Tell them: A degree WITH working experience is better than a degree without, AND a degree with working knowledge is better than low level job skills.

  20. Why is my daughter pay 6.8% on her college loans and not 3.4%. Let me know where I can intererst on my accounts anywhere close to that? How can she get the rate reduced?

    • They just raised the rates, she is a little too late. Don’t you help her. Parents need to stay out of the kids lives and let them take responsibility on their own. You raised them you did your job.

    • My daughter has several student loans. The ones that have the 3.4% are SUBSIDIZED loans (gov. pays interest till graduation) and the higher rates are for UN-subsidized loans (interest accrues monthly). I am very proud of my daughter as she has kept all of her interest +some paid on principles of all her loans. She has made all the payments herself, as she is a waitress while she is going to school. She starts Grad school this fall.

    • What is really unfair is why would they go to my old student loan and put a 6.8% interest rate when they should have started on my next session after they agreed on it?

  21. I didn’t see any references to joining the military to take advantage of their related payback options.

  22. Far too many people, more than half in my opinion, have absolutely no business attending college due to a lack of ; a) intellectual genetic factors, b) previous academic achievement, c) definable academic and career goals, d) motivation necessary to succede in classes, and e) understanding that continual learning and effort is required to gain as well as maintain what most people consider success. If one is honest, one knows that those who should attend college and do rarely have problems financing their education due to earned scholarships based on intellectual/academic achievement, part or full time work, grants, and loans.

    • Given that you don’t know how to spell succeed, I guess you’re among those who didn’t go to college, huh?

    • I agree with you! Can’t afford school then don’t dig yourself deeper into debt. Everyone has payments of some kind, house or rent, car payments and the ever expensive health care. Things that we need, education is a luxury not a basic need to survive, you can survive without it.

    • Hryder:
      You are clearly not an English major nor a motivational speaker. Please keep your negativity and ignorance to yourself.

    • Just who do you think you are to answer in such an unprofessional way about who can and who cannot attend college…….It’s obvious that you are not an intellectual from your response I just read.

      I am 68 years old and just finished my MBA/HR and you are the type of person I would terminate before discrimination litigation cases were put against a business. My BSTM/Medical Management, does this mean I should or should not be allowed to go to school………….Am I too old to have a functional brain?

      People pay taxes all their lives and work……they deserve to get those loans. Did you pay yours back, are you a scholarship person, do you come from money and what authority gives you the right to write what you did……..How many real professional people never paid back their loans….I know many doctors, lawyers, judges and I could go on……..With the economy as it is I am proud to know that more and more adults are re-educating themselves and going in to knew field of work make themselves more marketable.

      • I’m glad you went to college. You should be proud of your accomplishments! However, your post really doesn’t address the point that Hryder is making. Many students go to college just to “get a degree,” that’s supposed to magically promise them a job. In reality there are great jobs in business that one can prepare for by working their way up the ladder. Some of those folks should then go to college later (like you did) after they have some real world experience.

        I’m a high school teacher and I see way too many graduates go off to college and come back in December or May with their tails between their legs because they were not ready. As a result, they have lost confidence and gained tens of thousands of dollars of debt. The difficulty I have is determining (or helping students determine) whether they should go to college or go to work.

        By the way, I’m a big fan of community colleges. It’s a great opportunity for some students to get exposure to college without the cost of dorms, meal plans, and high tuition.

  23. I’ve worked as a financial aid counselor and a few things that are never made clear by the school are the loan origination fees imposed by the DOE. If offered federal student loans, make sure you ask about these fees. Currently, this fee is 1.2(?)% per disbursement. Also, there are limits imposed by the DOE regarding how much you are able to borrow per year. For example, a dependent undergrad can only borrow $5500 for the year as a freshman. That would be split between $3500/subsidized and $2000/unsubsidized for the year. As a sophomore, the subsidized will increase by an additional $1000, e.g. sophomore/$4500, junior and senior/$5500.

    These loans, in some cases, will not be enough to cover your charges for the year and you may need to consider other sources of funding, such as, private student loans or a Federal Parent Plus, if you happen to be a dependent undergrad.

  24. College debt = economic slavery. Financial education > any liberal degree you plan to finance with a 4-year loan.

  25. I like to share what I just read about Financial Aid in the coming years for Students n Adults in continuing their education n furthering their future. Financial Aid can accommodate your financial status only if you don’t abuse it. It all depends on the courses you decide to take. If you choose a high paying career after you graduate, then of course you will have unpaid accounts you have to pay back, but here is the main part you should know about Financial Aid regardless of exemptions n cuts the Government passes. Remember your career in the future is what will hold this country together or at least stable our economy. The harder your learn the better your financial aids will accommodate you. It all depends on you n how you earn your financial aids, because what you learn n use in your career creates opportunity for fellow Americans who want to create a (B.O.T.) buildings of tomorrow for your friends, families, n fellow neighbors who want to B.O.T. The better your grades are; the better your financial aid will aid you in your quest for a better stability for you guarantee. No matter what you decide for your career, remember you r the one who will help run this Government one day.

    • Please, “n” is NOT a word. Speaking about higher education by using slang is dissmissing education. I was so distracted by the first sentence, I can’t read the rest.

      • thank you so much for this – “n” and “r” and all of the other ‘shortcuts’ are the laziest thing in the world. It looks so ignorant, and if you are too lazy to type out two more letters for the words “and” and “are”, what else are you too lazy to do? Sheesh. You should be embarrassed at how stupid you look writing that way.

  26. I graduated in 2011. I had not found a job in my feild that I took classes in at our community college. I still have not found full time ITT work in 2013. I have finaly gotten a job 12/9/12 with dhs for daycare at night and I don’t even receive minumal wage. I have tried to work with them an they have said that they would work with us and they are not. I put in for jobs well they don’t even want to hirer a person that has this loan black balling us on our credit burreal. Employeers these days look at everything on your credit and if you can’t make a payment then you can’t have a job. This is sad because I also think they are looking at my age I have been a hard working person all my life and can’t find a job at 54. I had lost my job back in 2008 this is why I went back to school. I feel that employeer’s also don’t give the person that sent in to get a intervue in person. These companies are taken some of these people out of the bowl then throws them in the trash with out really knowing that person. Or you are told to do everything over the computer. And this way the computer answers your email as soon as they get your applacation I have sent 1 to a company and about 5minutes I get a reply of that they have found a person more suitable for the job. So how would you handle these type of problems with a person’s student loans. Thank you for haveing this here for us on these matters above.

    Sincerely
    Charlie

    • First thing I noticed Charlie is your grammar is horrible, so if your applying for jobs online and have horrible grammar employers will skip over your resume/application. Secondly, I’m an IT profession that had trouble getting a job after graduation, so I recommend you seek out an internship and work on developing your “IT” skills so when you get the opportunity to interview your able to demonstrate that your competent to do the job. Also look into working for local computer repair shops so you can add some relevant experience to your resume. Third, many people believe that getting a degree in IT automatically prepares you for employment and guarantees you a $50,000 a year job, that is not the case. Employers don’t work to have to pay you to train you, IT jobs are very competitive and you need to do whatever it is to stand out when compared to other candidates.

      Forth, when applying for job tailor your resume/application to the job posting i.e. if the job posting has “computer repair” in it, and you have “hardware repair” experience listed on your resume, change your resume/application to “computer repair.” Most jobs require you to apply online and your resume/application is scanned for buzz words. So is your application doesn’t contain any buzz words chances are a human will never see it.

      The area of IT that is currently showing the most growth is in the Information Security (Infosec) side of things. At the very least while your looking try to work on some certifications start with CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network + and CompTIA Security +.

      Hope this helps

      • First thing that I noticed Randall is you don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”. I stopped reading your comment right there.

        The economy sucks, and higher education is a business and a scam. In fact, as I was walking down the hallway back to my desk at my 6 figure job, I heard that very line “the economy sucks” from some other professionals making 6 figure salaries.

        It sucks. I will state it again. The economy sucks. People need to stop blaming themselves and the smartest thing to do is just ignore your loans and don’t pay them. In a few years they’ll have to forgive these loans or the economy simply can never recover. Everyone knows it.

        I personally pay my loans but I never wanted to get married, have kids, or own a home, or even have a retirement fund. Most people want those things. For me after I pay these loans off I’ll just continue living as I am, with virtually no cost. I can retire by 35 most likely with my expenses.

        • Derp,

          I find your comments most amusing.

          I have known people exactly like you who think their future is all planned out until “real life” hits them.

          One of them was a sophisticated wealthy middle-aged guy who fell, quite unwillingly, head over heels with a “white-trash” woman who was able to twist him around her finger and squander his assets.

          Check back with us in about 10 years. That ought to do it.

          Good luck!

        • Dear Derp,
          I am sending this message/appeal to you and GorDon because I liked and agree with your response. I have been building my credit and this is the last issue that I need to deal with. I am determined to get back “on my feet” again.
          Reading your reply gives me the impression that you are knowledgeable
          about repaying loans. I would like to email some questions to you, but hesitate
          because this is a public blog. I was laid-off during the economic crisis and have been under-employed and struggling to maintain a decent living
          for my family. I wanted to pick up payments, but at lower payments of which I qualified. I couldn’t get the loan company to respond and the keep capitalizing the interest to the principal amount – growing the amount that I will have to pay back. Is there an agency that I can talk to in help negotiating payments? If you are willing, please respond to this email request. Thank you.

        • The first thing I noticed, Randall and Derp, was the incorrect punctuation of the noun of address in the first line. We all need to improve our usage of grammar. Sigh!

    • Charlie,

      Check out USAJOBS.GOV, there are pleanty of ITT jobs to be had.

      Good Luck and God Bless

    • If your income is below 15k and you are in the (IBR) Income Based Repayment, plan you aren’t required to make a payment, and it does eat up your forbearance. Under IBR you pay no more than 10% of your wages.Additionally you may qualify for loan forgiveness while working for the day care.
      If you need more clarity, email me.

      • I have a student loan that is now w/ interest over 50,000 more than 20 yrs old- I have not found a way to have this “forgiven” – I am on an income based plan- I make less than 15,000 a yr and have come to the conclusion I will carry this to my grave- I was unable to finish school due to Sick parents/ divorce/ single Mom of two I withdrew after 2 yrs- I have been the caretaker of both my parents and My Stepfather- I have always worked – no Government assistance and the former Spouse who encouraged me to borrow 20,000 murdered a woman and then killed himself a couple yrs after our divorce- How can I get this loan/ interest off my shoulders?

      • Dear GorDon,
        Reading your reply gives me the impression that you are knowledgeable about repaying loans. I would like to email some questions to you, but hesitate because this is a public blog. I was laid-off during the economicc risis and have been under-employed and struggling to maintain a decent living
        for my family. I wanted to pick up payments, but at lower payments of which I qualified. I couldn’t get the loan company to respond and they keep capitalizing the interest to the principal amount – growing the amount that I will have to pay back. Is there an agency that I can talk to in helping to negotiate payments? If you are willing, please respond to this email request. Thank you.

      • only student loans, not parent plus loans are eligible for forgiveness. To bad for the parent who is 53 and lost her job.

    • No payback required IF you successfully complete the coursework for that semester. If you drop out or fail, you DO owe the money for that semester. No matter what! So, complete the work for that semester and no payback is required.

  27. I knew when Obamacare wrote the college loan program into it the public was doomed. This administration (Obama’s) encourages college education only to get the kids so indebted that they must work for the government when they graduate as their are no jobs in the private sector. Not to worry the IRS under Obama has hired 16,000 employees to bully the legal citizens of the U.S. whose beliefs or groups they do not like.
    Don’t get in debt to the government. They will own you.

    • The administration encourages higher education because without at least a portion of our population being highly educated, we won’t have doctors, lawyers, scientists, teachers, etc, etc. When developing countries like India and China are churning out these professionals at significantly higher rates than the US, then our economy will truly suffer. For our economic security, we NEED to produce more highly educated people to lead the world in new ideas, advancements, technologies. The surest way to get those people is to educate them, which is why nearly every other major country in the world has free education.

  28. Great article, most tudent doesnt have a clue what theyare envolved into and when time comes to pay, they are shocked and doesnt know how start and this information will definatelly help to take seriously their education and as a step to build thier bright future. Going to share it with our students,hope your tips will help to our students in L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian University in Asatna, kazakhstan. Thank you.

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