The cost of tuition is going way up. According to financial aid organization FinAid.org, the average cost of a four year degree has increased about six percent a year for the last six years. Chances are you or your parents have taken out some very large student loans to help get you through college. Here's what you need to know about paying that money back.
The first thing you need to know is what type of loan you have. Chances are you borrowed either a Stafford loan or a Perkins loan. These loans make up the majority of government spending. Stafford loans can be subsidized or unsubsidized. If you have a subsidized loan, which is granted to students based on need, the government makes your interest payments while you're enrolled in school. Unsubsidized loans are available to almost every student, but you're responsible for all of the accumulated interest. Perkins loans typically have lower interest rates and are always subsidized.
Who Do You Pay
It's also important to know who currently holds your loan. The bank from whom you originally borrowed money might still hold your loan, but there's a good chance your loan has been sold because banks often sell their loan portfolios. According to the Department of Education (doe.gov), after you graduate or fall below half-time enrollment you should receive a notice in the mail informing you of whom to pay.
How Much is it Going to Cost
You have a minimum payment to make each month, which will be part interest and part principal. Your payment plan is between you and your lender. Sometimes there are multiple prearranged plans to choose from and sometimes you have a little negotiating room. According to the Consumer Credit Counseling Service (cccs.org), you can choose from plans such as:
- Standard - The basic plan
- Accelerated - Quick pay off
- Graduated - Payments start low and increase over time
- Extended - Extra long pay back
Your lender will help you make your payments in every way possible. The last thing they want is for you to default, and that's the last thing you want as well. A default will start your postgraduate financial life on the wrong track. Imagine a world of bad credit, expensive loans and trouble getting credit.
Here are some helpful links if you need more information on paying back your loans: finaid.org, bankrate.com, studentloan.com and salliemae.com.