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Student Loans -

How to apply for a student loan (FAFSA)
How to repay student loans
How to have one low monthly school loan payment

Defaulting on a student loan
Repayment Plans



Repaying your student loans

What you need to know about repaying student loans...
After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you have a period of time before you have to begin repayment. This ďgrace periodĒ will be six months for a Federal (FFEL) or Direct Stafford Loan. nine months for Federal Perkins Loans (If youíre a parent reading this and you have a FFEL or Direct PLUS Loan, you donít have a grace periodórepayment generally must begin within 60 days after the loan is fully disbursed.)


If youíve attended college or received other education beyond high school, and you received federal student loans from the US Department of Education (ED) along the way - Youíre now about to deal with paying them back. Youíll need to know how to manage your student loan debt to avoid repayment problems.
There are several available repayment options so you can successfully repay your debt. Federal student loans are real loans, just like car loans or mortgage loans. You canít just get out of repaying a student loan if your financial circumstances become difficult, unless you qualify for bankruptcy. But, itís very difficult to have federal student loans discharged in bankruptcy; this happens only rarely. Also, you canít cancel your student loans if you didnít get the education you expected, didnít get the job you expected, or didnít complete your education, unless you leave school for a reason that qualifies you for a discharge of your loan - Remember, your student loans belong to you; you have to pay them back.


Loan Consolidation

A Consolidation Loan allows you to combine all the federal student loans you received to finance your college education into a single loan.
New Provisions Permitting Borrowers to Enter Repayment Early Under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended and the Department's regulations, a borrower can request a repayment schedule that provides for repayment to commence at a date that is earlier than six months after the date the borrower ceases to carry at least one-half the normal full time academic workload.
If the lender grants the request, the loan enters the repayment period and the borrower waives any applicable grace period. This is the case even if the borrower is currently enrolled in school. Such a borrower will be eligible to obtain a consolidation loan to repay the loan on which early conversion to repayment was granted, assuming all other eligibility criteria are met. As stated above, the borrower waives any applicable grace period, now and in the future.


To apply for a Direct Loan Consolidation or an FFEL Consolidation the borrower must contact the lender and complete an application. Most lenders provide borrowers with the ability to apply on-line or request an application over the telephone. Once an application is completed and submitted, the lender will request information from the borrowerís other lenders or from its own system to determine the amounts outstanding on the borrowers loans. The borrower will then receive notification about the consolidation loan, normal consumer disclosures, the amount owed, and if appropriate, where to make payments.


Consolidation loans have fixed interest rates that are based on the weighted average of the interest rates on the loans being consolidated. A lender can provide a new consolidation loan borrower with the lowest statutory weighted average interest rate for loans by using the lower of the weighted average of the interest rates on the loans being consolidated as of July 1 or the date the lender received the borrower's consolidation loan application. The lender should apply a consistent method of determining when an application is received.


Lenders' Options for Determining Federal Consolidation Loan Interest Rates and Permitting Borrowers to Enter Repayment Early
If the lender determines that the borrower is still enrolled, the lender can put the loan that will now be in repayment, into an in-school deferment status at the borrower's request. The interest rate on the loan would be the deferment rate. If the borrower consolidates the Stafford Loan, the deferment interest rate should be used in calculating the weighted average interest rate on the consolidation loan.



Repayment Plans

When repaying your student loan, you have some choices in repayment plans (for FFEL and Direct Loans) that can make repaying easier and help you avoid delinquency or default. If youíre delinquent, it means youíre late making a scheduled loan payment (most often, youíre 30 days or more late). Default, explained in more detail (see default page), generally means youíre 270 days or more late in making a loan payment. (Note that for Federal Perkins Loans, however, default is defined as the failure to make an installment payment when due or the failure to comply with other terms of your promissory note or written repayment agreement.)
Although default is more serious than delinquency, even delinquency can be reported to credit bureaus. A delinquency notation remains part of your financial history and could affect your credit rating. Repaying your loan on time will help you establish and maintain a good credit rating, which is crucial when you want to buy a car or a house, or even if you want to rent an apartment. Sometimes, your credit rating can even affect whether youíll be selected for a particular job. Itís important to keep paying on your student loans!


Defaulting on your Student Loans


If you default, it means you failed to make payments on your student loan according to the terms of your promissory note, the binding legal document you signed at the time you took out your loan. In other words, you failed to make your loan payments as scheduled. Your school, the financial institution that made or owns your loan, your loan guarantor, and the federal government all can take action to recover the money you owe. Here are some consequences of default:
National credit bureaus can be notified of your default, which will harm your credit rating, making it hard to buy a car or a house.
You would be ineligible for additional federal student aid if you decided to return to school.
Loan payments can be deducted from your paycheck.
State and federal income tax refunds can be withheld and applied toward the amount you owe.
You will have to pay late fees and collection costs on top of what you already owe.
You can be sued.


How to Apply for a Student Loan
U.S. Department of Education
- FAFSA
Gather the documents you need
Start with your Social Security Number, driver's license, income tax return, bank statements and investment records.

Print a FAFSA on the Web Worksheet
Write in your answers and gather your parent's information then transfer the data to FAFSA on the Web.

Plan how to sign your FAFSA
Sign electronically with a U.S. Department of Education Personal Identification Number (PIN) or by mailing in a signature page.

Apply for a PIN now!
Speed up the process by signing your FAFSA electronically with your PIN. Your parent can sign electronically too.

Check your eligibility for federal student aid.

Note important deadlines

To meet the Federal Student Financial Aid deadline:

Apply as early as possible beginning January 1st of each year.
Schools and states have their own deadlines. Contact them for exact deadline dates.



College loans bear biggest part
of budget-cutting plan


WASHINGTON (AP) -- As Congress moves to slash $40 billion in spending, no program will take a bigger hit than college loans, where almost $13 billion would be cut over five years.

For students, the upshot is mixed. Excessive government payments to banks would be halted, freeing up some dollars for new grants, larger loan limits and reduced loan fees.

But overall, the student loan program would endure the largest cut in its history, and most of the money would not be pumped back into education. Instead, under a plan the House approved Monday, the money would be counted only toward reducing the federal deficit.

"At a time when the entire country believes we need to make higher education more affordable, Congress is trying to balance the budget on the backs of students," said Jasmine Harris, legislative director for the United States Student Association.

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Parents who take out loans on behalf of their students would pay higher interest rates. And other parts of the college package could indirectly drive up costs for students, if banks pass on new expenses or offer less attractive loans as their profit margin shrinks.

"You don't want to say the news is all bad. It's a decidedly mixed bag," said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of the American Council on Education, the largest coalition of colleges and higher education groups in the nation.

"But on balance, one comes to the conclusion that this is a sad step in the history of the student loan program," Hartle said.

The $12.7 billion in college cuts are part of an effort, led by conservative Republican lawmakers, to show discipline with the public's money. But Democrats say GOP leaders only want to pay for tax cuts, all the while eroding the ability of parents to pay for college.

The timing of Senate action was unclear. Colleges and university associations scrambled Monday, urging the Senate to reject the bill as the Congress tried to end its 2005 work.

Within higher education, the single biggest cut appears to be in the profits of lenders.

Under current law, banks get to keep the excess money when the amounts that students pay in interest exceed the rate of return that the government has guaranteed. That would end. Lenders would have to refund the difference to the government, meaning billions of dollars.

"We were able to reduce spending through changes in the way lenders operate," said Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the chairman of the Senate education committee. "But at the same time, we shielded the direct impact to students, and actually increased student opportunities."

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The interest rate for parent loans would increase to a fixed rate of 8.5 percent in July. It is now a variable rate and had been set to move to a fixed rate of 7.9 percent.

Meanwhile, the interest on students loans would also move to a fixed rate of 6.8 percent in July, up from its current variable rate of 4.7 percent. But that change was already set to happen under law, and the deficit-reduction bill does not alter that plan. Student groups tend to support a fixed rate as a protection against unstable, rising interest rates.

Loan limits would increase from $2,625 to $3,500 for first-year students, and from $3,500 to $4,500 for second-year students. The total borrowing limit allowed for undergraduates would remain at $23,000. Lawmakers aimed for a compromise of letting students borrow more at the start of college, reflecting current needs, without sanctioning a bigger overall debt.

The bill would offer grants to poorer, high-achieving students in the first two years of college and older undergraduates studying math, science or high-demand foreign languages.

John Boehner, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House education committee, said the bill "offers significant new benefits to students pursuing a college education."

But critics said the size of those benefits doesn't come close to offsetting the cuts.

Said Bob Shireman, director of The Institute for College Access and Success: "Overall, there will be less money out there for helping students pay for higher education. And it's not being returned to the system, except in some small ways."

 


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