Repaying Your Loans


When you graduate, withdraw from school, or enroll less than half-time, you must begin to repay your student loans. If you have federal loans, you generally must complete an online counseling session, or exit interview. The counseling session, which is mandatory and focuses on the particular loan or loans you have, and how to manage your student loans during the repayment period.

You can learn more about the exit counseling session at NSLDS: http://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/.Click on the Exit Counseling button to get started.

STARTING THE REPAYMENT PROCESS

Check with your school's Student Finance department for advice — to ensure you understand your repayment responsibilities and how to choose the repayment option that works best for your personal financial situation. Remember that you can change your repayment plan if you qualify for one of the alternative plans.

With most federal education loans, repayment is made in monthly installments that must begin following a grace period of either six or nine months, depending on the type of loan. Some federal loans, including PLUS Loans, have no grace period. Some institutional and private loans don't have grace periods either. Repayment begins either when the loan is disbursed or when you leave school or are enrolled less than half-time.

Depending on the repayment option you choose, you will have from 10 to 25 years to pay off what you've borrowed. As is the case with every loan, the shorter the term, the less interest you will pay, and the less borrowing will cost you. However, if you choose the shortest option but you are unable to meet the payments it requires, you may be able to switch to another repayment plan.

For more on repaying your loans, you can visit:
http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans

PREPAYING YOUR LOANS

You also have the right to prepay any of your federal education loans at any time without a fee, either gradually or in a lump-sum. Prepayment reduces your interest cost. If you have several student loans, and some have higher interest rates than others, you can choose to prepay the most expensive loans first. If you do prepay, be sure to include a note to tell your lender or loan servicer that you want the extra amount used to reduce the loan principal.

To learn more about prepayment, you can go to http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans.
 
Be sure you understand how the grace periods that apply to Direct and Perkins loans work and when your first payment is due. Check http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/understand.