As a soon-to-be college student (or the proud parent of one), the prospect of taking out student loans can be intimidating. Grants and scholarships are great if you can get them, but they don’t always cover the full cost of tuition and books. Before you sign on the line, carefully consider your options and know what to expect.
Know that there’s likely a grace period built into having to pay back any loan. This is typically a six to nine month period after your graduation before repayments start. 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.
When paying off student loans, do it using a two-step process. Start by making the minimum payments of each loan. If you have money left over, apply that to the loan that has the highest interest associated with it. This will keep your total expenditures to a minimum.
Check the grace period of your student loan. Stafford loans offer loam recipients six months. Perkins loans offer a nine-month grace period. Other loans will vary. Keep in mind exactly when you’re supposed to start paying, and try not to be late.
You should shop around before deciding on a student loan company because it can end up saving you a lot of money in the end. The school you attend may try to sway you to choose a particular one. It is best to do your research to make sure that they are giving you the best advice.
Exercise caution when considering student loan consolidation. Yes, it will likely reduce the amount of each monthly payment. However, it also means you’ll be paying on your loans for many years to come. This can have an adverse impact on your credit score. As a result, you may have difficulty securing loans to purchase a home or vehicle.
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 reduce the amount of your student loans, work as many hours as you can during your last year of high school and the summer before college. The more money you have to give the college in cash, the less you have to finance. This means less loan expense later on.
To get the most out of your student loan dollars, take a job so that you have money to spend on personal expenses, rather than having to incur additional debt. Whether you work on campus or in a local restaurant or bar, having those funds can make the difference between success or failure with your degree.
The better your understanding of student loans, the more confident you can be in your decision. Paying for college is a necessary evil, but the benefits of an education are undeniable. Use everything you’ve learned here to make smart, responsible decisions about student loans. The faster you can get out of debt, the sooner you can earn a return on your investment.