Whether you are just entering college or graduating, the thought of paying back student loans can be daunting.
But don’t panic.
Augusta University’s Office of Student Financial Aid offers the following tips to help students navigate the world of student loans.
Evaluate your loan options
Federal and private education loans are options for financing your education, but consider using federal assistance before choosing a private education loan. Federal loans offer numerous repayment plans, affordable interest rates, and loan forgiveness programs. Whereas, private loan programs may offer fixed interest rates and may have limited deferment or loan forgiveness options.
Borrow only what you need
Most universities will offer you an estimated cost of how much you should borrow, but you do not have to accept the full amount. Set a budget and stick to it. Do your best to live frugally, and try not to borrow to support expensive habits.
Keep tabs on your borrowing
It is important to keep track of the balance and repayment status of each of your student loans. One of the best tools to monitor your loan activity is the National Student Loan Database System at NSLDS.ed.gov. You can use this site to view the balance and the repayment status on your federal student loans. If you have a private student loan, be sure to monitor your billing statements, or contact the school if you are unable to locate your loan records.
Know your repayment options
If you want to pay off more than one student loan, start with the one with the highest interest rate. If you find it difficult to make standard payments on your loan, consider other options such as income-driven repayment plans. These programs can help cap your monthly payments reasonable to your income and, depending on the plan, debt can be forgiven after 25 years. You can also keep tabs on your repayments by using the repayment estimator tool on studentloans.gov.
Search for alternative funding
Although student loans are available to offset your college expenses, continue searching for scholarships and check to see if your employer offers tuition assistance programs.