Four tips for managing your financial aid
It’s never too early to manage your loans. If you are not entirely clear how much loan debt you have taken on, here are six simple steps you can take:
1) Find out how much you’ve borrowed
- The easiest way to do this is to check your promissory note(s).
- You can also go to the National Student Loan Data System (go to “Financial Aid Review”). This site details all government issued loans including direct loans, FFEL loans, Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized loans, Perkins loans and PLUS loans.
- If you have a private label loan, you must contact the private bank or lending institution directly.
2) Know your payback amount and payback period
Two useful loan calculators: CNN and Money Magazine College Calculator or Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid
3) Consider loan consolidation: After you’ve graduated, consolidating more than one loan into just one loan, thereby managing one simple monthly payment, can be an effective way to manage your student debt. Depending on your student loan, consolidation could help you get a lower interest rate. Keep in mind that your private label loans and your government loans should not be consolidated together. Visit www.finaid.org to get the scoop on loan consolidation.
4) Postponing repayment vs. defaulting on your loan. After you’ve graduated, it is important to make your loan payments on time. If you can’t, look into all of your options before you “default,” which is the term for stopping your monthly payments. For a simple and thorough guide to your options if you are in this unfortunate situation, visit www.finaid.org/loans/default.phtml.