You’re repaying loans you borrowed to pay for college. But you often find yourself choosing between paying for essentials and making monthly loan payments. What should you do?
You’re in luck if, like 90% of today’s college borrowers, you borrowed federal loans. Washington offers multiple ways to get relief from your predicament. The question — which is best for you?
If you’ve not already done so, consider replacing your federal loans with a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan. These offer longer repayment periods and lower monthly payments if you owe more than $7,500. But look into consolidation’s advantages and disadvantages before going this route.
You can also tell your loan servicer will change your repayment plan. To check out how this’ll affect your payments use the Federal Student Loan Repayment Estimator. It already knows your loan balances and can tell you the repayment plans for which you’re eligible plus monthly payment amounts in each available plan. It can also determine how consolidation would impact your loan repayment.
If the reason you can’t afford monthly payments is temporary, look into getting a deferment to postpone your payments for up to a year. You’re entitled to deferment if you’re:
- Enrolled at least half-time in postsecondary school;
- A parent borrower whose student is enrolled at least half-time in postsecondary school;
- Enrolled in federally-approved graduate fellowship or rehabilitation training;
- Unemployed or working less than 30 hours a week in a job lasting less than three months;
- Experiencing economic hardship or doing Peace Corps service; or
- On active duty military service connected to a war, military operation, or national emergency — or for 13 months of post-active duty service.
No deferment? Another temporary solution is asking your servicer for a forbearance. You’re not entitled to forbearance. It depends on your situation. But you can totally postpone or partially reduce your payments while in forbearance.
But be careful about deferment and forbearance. During the former, interest continues to build on your unsubsidized and PLUS loans. During the latter, interest keeps building on all your loans. Unpaid interest from these periods then gets capitalized (added to principle) when your deferment or forbearance ends.
If your trouble making payments is because of your monthly due date, ask your servicer if you may change your payment due date to another day that works better for you.
Act fast, because missed and late payments have really bad consequences.
College Affordability Solutions offers 40-years of experience working with various educational loan repayment strategies. Call (512) 366-5354 or email College Affordability Solutions for a no-cost consultation.