Guest Post: The Best Student Loan Resources for New Graduates

June 9th, 2015

The Best Student Loan Resources for New Graduates

By: Jessica Ferastoaru, Take Charge America

 

Jessica Ferastoaru - reduced headshotLast month, students all across the country donned cap and gown to mark the momentous achievement of becoming college graduates. After graduates have celebrated this accomplishment, many will begin to reflect on the extent of their student loan debt, and what this means for their financial outlook. The majority of new graduates will enter post-college life with some amount of student loan debt, yet many do not have a plan in place for managing the debt prior to graduation. In many cases, borrowers default on their student loans despite the fact that a number of options exist that would allow for more affordable payments.

Student loan borrowers should start examining their loan options as soon as possible, so that they have a plan of action once the loans enter repayment. Some loans may enter repayment immediately after graduation, while others may have a grace period of 6 to 9 months. Not sure where to get started? Check out the tips below to prevent student loans from hindering your post-college success.

Step 1: Review your Loan Information

NSLDS: NSLDS.ed.gov

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the main database for federal student aid information. Here you can find important details about your Title IV loans and grants. Not sure who your loans are with? You can find your loan holder(s) at NSLDS. You will also find a summary of your loan information, including loan types, disbursement dates and original and outstanding balances

If not all of your loans appear on the NSLDS website, this likely means you also have private student loans. You can view both your private and federal loans by ordering a free copy of your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

FSA ID: FSAID.ed.gov

To login to NSLDS and other federal student aid websites, you will need to create a username and password, known as an FSA ID. The FSA ID will also allow you to electronically sign certain student aid documents. Previously, borrowers used a 4-digit PIN to access their federal loan information. The PIN has been replaced by the new FSA ID. When you create an FSA ID, you will be able to link your PIN to your new FSA ID to immediately view your online federal student loan information.

Step 2: Determine your Repayment Options

Federal Repayment Estimator: StudentAid.ed.gov

When your loans enter repayment, they will be placed on a Standard 10-Year Repayment Plan. This plan is designed to save you the most money over the life of the loan. However, this also means you will make higher payments on the Standard Plan compared to most other plans. If you need lower payments, you can use the Federal Repayment Estimator to explore alternative repayment plans, including Graduated, Extended, and Income-Driven Repayment options.

Step 3: Change your Repayment Plan if Necessary

StudentLoans.gov: StudentLoans.gov

Here you can complete an application to consolidate your federal student loans, or to enroll your loans on an Income-Driven Repayment Plan.

Not sure how to choose the best repayment plan for your situation? You can contact Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit counseling agency, to review your loan options. You can speak to a counselor by calling 877-784-2008.

Need further assistance?

Ombudsman: StudentAid.ed.gov

If you have been unsuccessful in resolving a problem with your federal student loan(s), you can contact the Federal Ombudsman for help.

CFPB: ConsumerFinance.gov/Students

The CFPB collects feedback from borrowers related to student loan issues. If you encounter a problem with your loan servicer, you can submit your comments to the CFPB to participate in the bureau’s consumer protection efforts.

Jessica Ferastoaru is a Student Loan Counselor for Take Charge America

 

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