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May 13, 2013

What Every Class of 2013 Graduate Needs to Know Right Now

Student loan borrowers have about 6-months following graduation before they have to start making payments on their student loans - a grace period.  For the class of 2013, that means their grace period for their federal student loans will end around October.  The first step is to get a clear picture of your situation.

Get a clear inventory of your loans

  • It's always important to start by figuring out exactly what kind of loans you have and what the "status" is of your loans.  You can look up your federal loans on the National Student Loan Data System, where you will need a PIN issued by the Department of Education.  You can get a PIN for NSLDS here.

  • Once you go to the NSLDS site, you will click on the "Financial Aid Review" button and a couple of "Accept" buttons.  This will bring you to the login screen.  There you will enter your complete SSN, first 2 letters of your last name, your date of birth, and your PIN issued by the Department of Education.

  • Once you are logged in to NSLDS, you will see a complete listing of all of your student loans that will be numbered from 1 to XX in blue letters on the left.  Click on each loan (or the ones that you are contemplating for Income-Based Repayment) and this will list three items: the loan servicer, the loan lender, and the guarantor.  Once you know definitively who your loan servicer is, you can use this link to contact them to request the proper forms.

  • Should you happen to have any private student loans, you can find out information about them on your credit report.

So, what happens after the grace period?
After the grace period ends, borrowers who do not select a repayment plan are automatically enrolled in standard repayment.  But standard repayment can result in a high monthly payment, and it isn't the best option for everyone.  Check out good info on which repayment plans are which here.

How do I choose a repayment plan?
If your standard payments are too high for you to manage, "Pay As You Earn" or Income-Based Repayment can be good options, but the right choice for you depends on a lot of different factors (including your total debt burden, your income, and your expected career path).

Who will help me figure this out?

  • I will!  I provide resources and information for student loan borrowers and the people who love them. Post your questions about student loan programs on my forum.  My focus is on training borrowers and professionals, but I don't provide individual consultations, sorry!
  • Your school’s financial aid office can help you with answers to many of your questions.
  • Your loan servicer can give you information about your loans and you'll definately need to deal with them for lots of administrative stuff, but they aren't always a completely unbiased source so be sure to advocate for yourself and understand your options. Find out who your servicer is on the National Student Loan Data System.  You will need a PIN issued by the Department of Education that you can get here.
By Heather | Category: Pay As You Earn, IBR, Student Debt, Student Loan Repayment  
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