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How to Manage Your Student Loan Debt

Graduation is near, and your student loan debt is creeping up on you. While dealing with student loan debt can feel overwhelming, you are not alone; over 45 million Americans pay student loan debt. A good way to manage your student loan debt is to educate yourself on your loan details and determine the repayment plan that best suits you. Discover how to get started with Varsity.

Start with the Initial Loan Details

Before you can manage your student loan debt, you need to learn about your lender, your servicer, and how much you owe. While it may sound intimidating, finding this information is fairly straightforward. If you took a loan out through Federal Student Aid, you can log into the website and find all of your loan information in one place. If you have private student loans, log on to those specific websites to find the same information.

Not sure where to begin with finding your loan information? Speak to your school’s financial aid office. They should be able to help you obtain all of your student loan information within their records. In case you can’t reach your financial aid office, you can also use the National Student Loan Debt System (NSLDS) or download your credit report for detailed information about your loans.

Learn Common Student Loan Terms

Now that you’ve seen how much student loan debt you have, you may be a little confused by terms like “subsidized” and “unsubsidized.” Let’s go over a few of the common student loan terms to help you have a better understanding of your financial responsibilities.

Student Loan Types

Subsidized Loan: A federal student loan that the government pays interest on while you are in school and during deferment and grace periods
Unsubsidized Loan: A loan where you, the student, are responsible for paying the interest.
PLUS Loans: Federal student loans that take the borrower’s credit history into account (there are two types: Parent PLUS and Grad PLUS).
Private Loans: Student loans that are provided by private lenders instead of the government.
Grant: Financial aid that you do not have to pay back.

Other Student Loan Terms You’ll See

Interest: A percentage of the amount you borrowed that is charged to you, the borrower.
Repayment Period: The amount of time you have to repay your student loans.
Co-signer: Someone (usually a parent or guardian) who signed a credit agreement on your loan is responsible for loan payment if you cannot make payments.
Promissory note: A legal contract between you and your loan lender that explains the terms and conditions of your loans and loan repayments.
Deferment: Temporary postponement of loan repayment.
Forbearance: Permission to postpone, reduce or extend loan payments due to certain qualifying circumstances.

Review Your Grace Periods

After you have a better idea of the common student loan terms you may be reading on your loan statements, you should review your grace periods. Each of your loans will have a grace period after you graduate. This means you will have a set amount of time, typically varying between six and nine months, before you have to start paying your student loans back.

Make sure to read your grace period information carefully and to take note of the date that your first loan is due. You don’t want to miss your very first payment!

Consider Consolidation and Other Special Programs

In the event that you have more than one student loan, you should consider your consolidation options. When you consolidate your loans, you are essentially combining them into one big loan. Doing so allows you to pay one monthly payment instead of multiple.

Keep in mind, however, that while consolidation may lower your monthly payments, it may also lengthen in your repayment period. Make sure that consolidation is the best decision for you.

It’s also important to explore loan forgiveness options and programs. Many nonprofit organizations, medical schools, and other educational institutions offer student loan forgiveness opportunities that you should take full advantage of.

Stay on Top of Your Finances with Varsity

At Varsity, we understand that taking care of your student loans can be overwhelming. That’s why we offer convenient checking and savings accounts to make managing your spending and creating a budget easier. Want to take care of your student loan payments with a few swipes or clicks? Open an account with Varsity and enjoy our online bill payment option today!

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