Things to Know for Student Loans

GTE UniversityKnow what you’re applying for

In many cases, students can qualify for more than one type of loan. That’s why it’s important to know the main characteristics of each type of loan you apply for. You may have federal loans, private loans, state loans, loans from your school, or some combination of the different types. Different loan types can have very different terms and conditions, so be sure you know what types of loans you’ve got.

Know the terms and payment amount

Familiarize yourself with the repayment terms of all your loans. Here are some things to keep an eye out for:

Loan Interest

  • Remember, a student loan is just like any other loan—it’s borrowed money that will have to be repaid with interest. As interest accrues, it may be added to the total balance of your loan if left unpaid. As a recent graduate, you may want to consider making student loan interest payments during your grace period to save money on the total cost of your loan.

Loan Balance

  • Once you’ve tracked down all of your loans, you’ll want to know your total loan balance. This will help you determine a plan for repayment.
  • For your federal student loans, www.nslds.ed.gov will display your loan balance. For private and other student loans, you’ll want to check with those lenders.

Repayment Options

    • Depending on the types of loans you have, you will have different repayment options.
    • Federal student loans offer great benefits, including flexible repayment options. Some options include tying your monthly payment to your income, extending your payments over a longer period of time, or combining multiple loans into one. Want to compare what your monthly payment would be under each repayment plan? Use our free calculators! Once you figure out which repayment option is right for you, contact your loan servicer to enroll in that plan.
    • For non-federal loans, you’ll want to check with your lender to see what types of repayment options are offered.

Know your options

  • Students who have served or are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces have special loan options through the G.I. Bill and other programs. In most cases, these loans provide better terms than other types of financial aid. Consult your Family Assistance Center for more information on what is available for you.
  • Ways to save on interest, like signing up for automatic debit payments.
  • Options for paying more than your monthly required payment.
  • Forgiveness, cancellation, and discharge options.

Know how much you are willing to borrow

Many students graduate with excessive amounts of student loan debt. Decide on a dollar amount you are willing to take on then find or create alternative sources of funding for the balance. Working part time during the school term and in the summer can also help to defray expenses–and it will look good on your résumé.

The bottom line

Knowing your goals, limits and situation is key in taking out the right type and amount of student loans. Those who plan ahead and know what to expect will start their careers on much better footing than those who simply take loans because they are available.