What is a federal student loan?
Federal loans are borrowed funds that you must repay with interest. A federal student loan allows students and their parents to borrow money to help pay for college through loan programs supported by the federal government. They have low interest rates and offer flexible repayment terms, benefits, and options.
What is a private student loan?
A private student loan is a nonfederal loan issued by a lender such as a bank or credit union. If you’re not sure whether you’re being offered a private loan or a federal loan, check with the financial aid office at your school.
Why are federal student loans a better option for paying for college?
Federal student loans offer borrowers many benefits not typically found in private loans. These include low fixed interest rates, income-based repayment plans, cancellations for certain employment, and deferment (postponement) options, including deferment of loan payments when a student returns to school. Also, private loans usually require a credit check. For these reasons, students and parents should always exhaust federal student loan options before considering a private loan.
Who is the loan servicer and lender?
A loan servicer is a company that handles the billing and other services on your federal student loan. The lender is the organization that made the loan initially; the lender could be the borrower's school; a bank, credit union, or other lending institution; or the U.S. Department of Education.
How can I find out who is my loan servicer?
Visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to view information about all the federal loans you have received. The contact information for the loan servicer or lender is retrievable through NSLDA.
Who do I contact when I am ready to pay my loans?
You need to contact your loan servicer. Your loan servicer or lender must provide you with a loan repayment schedule that states when your first payment is due, the number and frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment.
Do I have to wait until I graduate to repay my loans?
Its never too early to start your repayments. In fact, if you start paying the interest on your student loans while you’re in school, you will be saving yourself money in the long run. In addition, it will also help you pay off your loans faster.
What are my repayment options?
Before contacting your loan server to discuss repayment, you can first use the Repayment Estimator to get an early look at which plans you may be eligible for and see estimates for how much you would pay monthly overall.
Are all repayment plans the same?
No, repayment plans may very
- Standard Repayment Plan - allows you to pay off your federal loans in the shortest amount of time.
- Graduated Repayment Plan - starts with lower payments that increase every two years.
- Extended Repayment Plan - allows you to repay your loans over an extended period of time. Payments are made for up to 25 years.
- Income Based Repayment Plan (IBR) - is designed to reduce monthly payments to assist with making your student loan debt manageable.
- Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan - helps keep your monthly student loan payments affordable, and usually has the lowest monthly payment amount of the repayment plans that are based on your income.
- Income-Contingent Plan (ICP) - is based on your adjusted gross income, family size, and the total amount of your Direct Loans.
- Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan - is available to low-income borrowers who have Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans.