Student loans can help you achieve your dream of getting a college degree. But they can also get you in serious debt if you don’t consider all of the consequences before you borrow that money. Take the time to read up on student loans and how they can impact your future. Start with the tips below.
Find out when you must begin repayments. This is generally the period after graduation when the payments are due. Knowing when this is over will allow you to know when to pay your payments on time so you don’t have a bunch of penalties to take care of.
Do not hesitate to “shop” before taking out a student loan. Just as you would in other areas of life, shopping will help you find the best deal. Some lenders charge a ridiculous interest rate, while others are much more fair. Shop around and compare rates to get the best deal.
Keep good records on all of your student loans and stay on top of the status of each one. One easy way to do this is to log onto nslds.ed.gov. This is a website that keep s track of all student loans and can display all of your pertinent information to you. If you have some private loans, they will not be displayed. Regardless of how you keep track of your loans, do be sure to keep all of your original paperwork in a safe place.
Try shopping around for your private loans. If you need to borrow more, discuss this with your adviser. If a private or alternative loan is your best bet, make sure you compare items like repayment options, fees, and interest rates. Your school may recommend some lenders, but you’re not required to borrow from them.
If you’ve taken out more than one student loan, familiarize yourself with the unique terms of each one. Different loans will come with different grace periods, interest rates, and penalties. Ideally, you should first pay off the loans with high interest rates. Private lenders generally charge higher interest rates than the government.
Before accepting the loan that is offered to you, make sure that you need all of it. If you have savings, family help, scholarships and other types of financial help, there is a chance you will only need a portion of that. Do not borrow any more than necessary since it will make it harder to pay it back.
To keep your overall student loan principal low, complete your first two years of school at a community college before transferring to a four-year institution. The tuition is significantly lower your first two years, and your degree will be just as valid as everyone else’s when you graduate from the larger university.
Try to make your student loan payments on time. If you miss your payments, you can face harsh financial penalties. Some of these can be very high, especially if your lender is dealing with the loans through a collection agency. Keep in mind that bankruptcy won’t make your student loans go away.
Never sign any loan documents without reading them first. This is a big financial step and you do not want to bite off more than you can chew. You need to make sure that you understand the amount of the loan you are going to receive, the repayment options and the rate of interest.
The advice from above is just the beginning of what you need to know about student loans. Student loans are an incredible investment in your future. So you need to take the time to carefully consider what you will be borrowing and how it will all add up. The choices you make today can have great impact on your financial future.