College costs are on the rise, and an increasing number of students pursue student loans to achieve the college education they want. Because student loans ultimately mean student debt, which can get out of hand quickly, it’s important to understand and manage them from the outset. Here are three tips to help you stay on top of things:
1. Hunt For Grants and Scholarships
Grants and scholarships are essentially free money when it comes to your education, so they can greatly reduce the amount of student loans you need to take out. They are available from countless programs and organizations, including federal and state governments, various professional and educational associations, and colleges themselves. You can also find scholarships and grants for studying specific subjects, pursuing certain careers, and participating in certain school activities, like sports. Begin by considering who you are and what interests you. Do some research with these characteristics in mind to see if there are aid programs offered for students like you. Start with CollegeScholarships.org’s list of “101 Grants You’ve Never Heard of.”
2. Look to Federal Loans First
Because the federal government backs student loans, they are less risky and often less expensive than private loans. Federal loans also come with certain benefits such as unemployment deferments, which enables you to delay payment due to financial hardship, and in some rare circumstances loan forgiveness programs. Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to begin the process, as you will need it for both federal student loan programs and aid awarded directly by the college or university. You can see a complete inventory of your federal student loans from the National Student Loan Data System. You can also find comprehensive federal aid student information and loan repayment calculators from the U.S. Department of Education through StudentAid.ed.gov and StudentLoans.gov.
3. Select the best repayment option for your particular situation.
Once you have taken out student loans, you have different ways of repaying them. It’s important to fully understand the benefits and drawbacks of each so that your choices match your circumstances.
Standard Repayment: Equal monthly payments over a 10-year period
Benefit: Less interest paid over time
Drawback: Higher payments
Income-driven Repayment: Monthly payments based on income
Benefit: Affordable payments
Drawback: More interest paid over time
Drawback: Extra paperwork, such as annual income verification
Find more information at AskHeatherJarvis.com. Student loans don’t have to get out of hand and negatively affect your future. Follow these tips to keep your debt at a manageable level and to hopefully make your monthly payments on time every time.
Shriver, Maria. “Life Ed: How to Manage Student Loan Debt.” NBC News. NBC News, 12 June 2014. Web. 23 July 2014. Retrieved from NBC News.
CollegeScholarships.org. “101 College Grants You’ve Never Heard of. CollegeScholarships.org. Web. 23 July 2014. Retrieved from CollegeScholarships.org.