Financial Aid, Part 3: Paying Your Loans Back

Whether you’ve graduated, left school, or dropped your classes you’ll have to start paying your loans back. It’s also important that you know you have to at least get a “C” or a 2.0 grade point average to meet the requirements to receive financial aid. If you do not get at least a C average, or if you drop your classes, in some cases, you may even have to pay back some of your grant money and the loan money.

At any time, you can check the status of your financial aid, including outstanding balances and disbursements here. Be prepared to share your personal information.

It’s important to note that you must pay back your student loans every month, on time in their entirely.

Exit Counseling
As you begin to receive information about repayment, your loan provider will notify you of the date that your loan repayment begins. As with any other loan and bill, it is important to make your full payment on time, according to your payment schedule. There could be serious consequences for anyone who does not. It’s important to remember that student loans are REAL loans, such as a mortgage or car loan.

Repaying Back Your Loan(s)
You may have a choice of how you want to pay back your loans. You can decide how much you’ll pay and how long it may take for your to repay your loans. There are different types of repayment plans: Standard, Extended, Graduated, Income Based Repayment (IBR), Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) and Income-Sensitive Repayment. Click here for more information.

There are some options for the repayment plans. I’ve listed some for you:

Level Payment Plan
Total amount of your loan plus interest divided until it equals 120 equal payments. You’ll pay the same amount every year for about 10 years until the loan is paid off.

Graduated Payment Plan
Monthly payments start out low when your assumed income is lower. Repayments gradually rise over the 10 year period as assumed income “increases.” The lower beginning payments mean that you’ll have to pay more interest over the life of the loan.

Extended Payment Plan
This is usually for people who have borrowed a lot of money and need to stretch their repayment plan over 10 years. You’ll end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

Income Contingent Plan
If your income is low, you may qualify for lower payment plans made over 25 years.

Trouble Making Payments
If you’re having trouble making your payments, it’s important that you contact your lender immediately. For more information on postponing repayment, click here.

Default
If you default, that means you failed to make payments to your student loans according to the terms of what you signed at the time you took out your loan.  As a result, your school, the financial institution that made or owns your loan, your loan guarantor, and the federal government can all take action against you to recover the money that you owe. As listed on the Department of Education’s website, some consequences include:

  • National credit bureaus can be notified of your default, which will harm your credit rating, making it hard to buy a car or a house.
  • You would be ineligible for additional federal student aid if you decided to return to school.
  • Loan payments can be deducted from your paycheck.
  • State and federal income tax refunds can be withheld and applied toward the amount you owe.
  • You will have to pay late fees and collection costs on top of what you already owe.
  • You can be sued.

If you default, here are some actions you can take.

Discharge/Cancellation of Loans
Under rare circumstances, it is possible to have a student loan debt discharged. For more information, click here.

It’s important to note that you cannot cancel a federal student loan because of financial difficulties unless you qualify for a bankruptcy discharge.

Again, Live like a college student while you’re in college, but don’t force yourself to live like a college student the rest of your life.

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