If you are preparing to graduate and have taken out student loans, it is time to start thinking about paying them back! Here is everything you need to know about grace periods, payment schedules, and more, for both federal and private loans.
Paying Off Federal Direct Loans
Student loans offered by FRCC are subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loans. These loans are not based on credit and are awarded to students based on financial need and grade level.
Direct Loans are borrowed funds from the Department of Education (DOE). Once the student has left school or dropped below half-time, repayment is required.
"Leaving school" means that you have withdrawn from classes (whether or not you have earned your degree), you are going to school less than half-time or are graduating!
All students who have previously borrowed loans and have left school will be required to complete Exit Counseling. Similar to Entrance Counseling, which is required upon being a first-time loan borrower, Exit Counseling provides important information to help you prepare to repay your federal student loan(s) such as: creating a budget, outlining repayment plans, and identifying your loan servicer.
You can complete Exit Counseling online by visiting studentloans.gov and selecting the “Complete Exit Counseling” option.
Direct Loans – After you leave school, you have a six month grace period where no payments are required.
- During this time, be sure to contact your loan servicer(s) to establish the best payment plan for you that will ensure you can make on-time monthly payments once you are in repayment.
Direct PLUS Loans – A Direct Plus Loan is a loan borrowed by a parent of an FRCC student. The general repayment time-frame begins once the entire loan is disbursed, even if the student is still attending college.
- If your parents need to, there may be options to defer this loan while you are still enrolled in school at least half-time.
- Your parent should contact their loan servicer about their PLUS loan for any deferment or forbearance options available!
What is a Loan Servicer?
A loan servicer is a company who partners with the Department of Education (DOE). Direct Loans are offered by the DOE, but a loan servicer handles the day-to-day billing, collection and administration of the loan.
What does this mean for you? You will have a specific loan servicer (or company) assigned to each loan you borrow who will send you bills, collect your payments, answer questions and most importantly, help you navigate repayment options!
- This is a free service offered that requires no subscription or fee! It is important to remember that if you borrowed at different times or through different institutions, you may have more than one loan servicer assigned to you!
Not sure who your servicer is? Your assigned loan servicer should have sent you a notification, by mail or email, when your loan was originally approved. If you are unsure:
Know What You Owe
To see how much you have borrowed in federal student loan funding, visit the National Student Loan Data System for your loan borrowing history and grant usage. The website will also provide specific details on the loan such as: the fixed interest rate, repayment status of the loan and contact information for the Loan Servicer assigned to the individual loan record.
Studentloans.gov is also a great resource to help prepare you for repayment. The calculators and forms will help set you up with a successful repayment plan!
Having Trouble with Your Payments?
If your payments are too high, you have lost your job or have unexpected expenses, contact your loan servicer(s) right away.
In some cases, they can temporarily suspend your payments, which will keep your loan current and reduce negative impact on your credit score.
Defaulting on a Federal Direct Loan
If you miss 11 consecutive months of payments – and you have not deferred or worked something out with your servicer – your loan will go into default, which could mean:
Garnishment of wages and/or tax refunds
An additional collection fee of up to 18.5% of your defaulted balance
Negative impacts to your credit score which will restrict and/or hinder your ability to secure future loans for cars, homes or credit cards
Will not be able to receive any type of federal student aid at FRCC or another institution
If you think you are in danger of defaulting, or have already defaulted, contact your loan servicer immediately. The earlier you make contact, the quicker you can work to resolve the default and face fewer long-term consequences.
Private loans are granted by private banks or lending institutions. They have varying repayment schedules, interest rates and deferral options.
Since these loans are not from the Department of Education, they will not be included in your National Student Loan Data borrowing history!
Not sure where to start? FRCC can help!
The FRCC Financial Aid office is happy to guide you through repayment, and provide information on your student loan debt, ways to reduce borrowing, and options for repayment.
Contact the Financial Aid office at your campus, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.