If you graduated from college last spring, chances are your obligation to begin repaying your Federal Direct Loans has begun. If you’ve not yet heard from the student loan servicer Washington hired to collect your payments, you need to contact it immediately (see below) because you’ve got some important things to do:
Choose Your Repayment Plan. Your servicer sent you a notice by email, U.S. Mail, or both. This notice invites you to select the repayment plan that works best for you at this point in time. If you don’t select a plan, you’ll automatically be assigned a Standard Repayment Plan under which you’ll pay off your Federal Direct Loans within 10 years by paying the same amount every month.
No matter what your repayment plan, you can change it by contacting your servicer. However, if you’re paying under an income-based or income-contingent plan, you can switch only after making payments for at least three months.
Decide How to Pay. You may pay by cash or check. But the most convenient way to pay is to give your servicer permission to draw your monthly payment out of your bank account via “electronic funds transfer.”
Your Payment Due Date. Your notice will also tell you the date on which your first payment is due. This date is in January for most spring graduates.
Payment must arrive at your servicer within 15 calendar days of this date or you’ll be behind in your payments. But remember, if you’re mailing your payments, assume it’ll take the post office about 10 days to deliver them.
You’ll have the same payment due date every month. However, if at any time this date doesn’t work for you, you may contact your servicer and request a different payment due date provided you’re not behind in your payments.
If You Can’t Afford to Make Payments. Call your servicer. Describe the issues affecting your ability to pay. Ask if you qualify to postpone your payments through a deferment or forbearance. But remember, postponing payments often generates additional interest on your Federal Direct Loans, so you’ll spend more to repay them in the long run.
You’ve got lot’s of options. Make well-informed, wise choices to help set yourself up for a smooth and successful repayment experience.