o Find out the specifics on your loans. You can find your loan information on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). Take the information and put it all onto your Loan Data Sheet. This gives you a handy way to reference all of your Federal loan information in one place.
Note the following:
o Loan balance and interest rate
o Loan servicer and contact information for the servicer
o Type of loan
o When the first payment is due.
o Create an account on your loan servicer’s website. Here you can view your current balances, make payments, change payment plans, or apply for deferment/forbearance.
o Complete your mandatory exit counseling. If you have Federal student loans, you have to complete a mandatory exit counseling. Your school takes care of the actual counseling so check with them regarding how to complete it.
o Research your repayment options. Everyone knows the standard 10 year repayment schedule but there are other options which might be advantageous to you. If you have a large amount of debt then it can make sense to see if an income driven repayment plan can save you money.
o See if you’re eligible for any type of student loan forgiveness. There are several types of student loan forgiveness, with the most commonly known being Public Service Loan Forgiveness. PSLF can be a huge benefit to those working for either government, nonprofits, or in education. After ten years of qualifying payments, the remainder of your student loan debt is forgiven. There are several caveats though, the largest being that only direct Federal loans qualify for PSLF. Don’t refinance your loans through a private lender if you’re considering PSLF.
o Consider refinancing options. If you don’t plan on using PSLF then it often makes sense to consolidate your loans into one private loan. Current interest rates for borrowers with good credit are well below the average 6.8% rate on Federal loans. Refinancing can save you thousands over the course of your loan. Banks specializing in student loan refinancing include:
o Lend Key
o Common Bond
o Darien Rowayton Bank
o First Republic Bank
o Decide on a payment plan. Once you’ve considered your options, make a plan and then execute that plan. It takes perseverance in order to pay off your student loans.
o Enroll in your servicer’s automatic payment plan. Many loan servicers will offer a discount of .25% just for using automatic payments. It’s a win-win situation; your life is made simpler and you save money by doing it.
o Make sure you receive a 1098-E at the end of the year. Student loan interest, or at least a portion thereof, is generally deductible
. Your 1098-E is a Student Loan Interest Statement, which you’ll use while calculating your taxes.
o Know what options you have if you can’t make a payment. No one wants to find themselves in this situation but occasionally it happens. You need to know what options you have before you find yourself in this position. Deferments and forbearance are generally your two options. The difference between them is how interest is calculated on the loan during the time that you’re not paying. Which is better depends on your specific situation.