Before, During, and After College: Resources To Help You Understand Your Federal Student Loans

Few students and parents are familiar with their rights and responsibilities as student loan borrowers. Even fewer know of the resources available to help them obtain such information.

The Federal Direct Loan Program makes 90% of all student loans so, today, we’re discussing FDLP information resources for those loans.

Before and During College

To receive your first FDLP loan, you must complete an online Master Promissory Notes (MPN) — your loan contract with the government. It spells out your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. Review it carefully. Ask questions about it if necessary. Make a paper copy and store that copy in a safe place. You can never can tell when you’ll need it.

You must also complete online entrance counseling before you get your first FDLP loan. Pay close attention to its content. You’ll find it really helpful.

The Federal Student Aid (FSA) website is informative and easy to read. Under “Types of Aid,” open its Loans webpage for what you need to know about different FDLP loans, how to get them, their borrowing limits, and how they differ from private student loans. Back on the Loans webpage you’ll also find information on FDLP interest rates and fees.

Finally, your financial aid office should be able to advise you on FDLP loan issues that arise before and during college.

After College

The government provides online exit counseling when you leave school and repayment begins to draw near. Be sure to complete this counseling, and pay close attention to the facts it offers.

There’s also a How to Repay Your Loans webpage on the FSA website. It’ll connect you to guidance about making payments, finding the right repayment plan, and what to do if you’re having trouble making payments. It also links to information about loan forgiveness, cancellation, and discharge, and there’s a repayment calculator for estimating your payments under each repayment plan available to you.

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), which is accessible with your FSA ID, shows you what owe on your FDLP loans, each loan’s status, and the federal loan servicer collecting them.

If you need advice about situations affecting your FDLP debt, call your federal loan servicer or the government’s Student Loan Support Center at (800) 557-7394. You can also call or email the Federal Student Aid Information Center. It’s phone number is (800) 433-3243.

No matter which federal loans you have, bookmark and use these resources. Only by being well-informed will you be able to manage your federal college debt well.

Contact College Affordability Solutions for free consultations if you have difficulty understanding anything about any of your student loans.

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