Repaying College Debt
Step 1: Know who you owe
You can find all of your outstanding federal loans by visiting www.nslds.ed.gov. The National Student Loan Data System tracks your federal loans until they are paid in full, allowing you to see exactly how much you owe and to whom.
There is no data base for your private loans. If you are unsure of who you owe you can receive a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. This will allow you to see how much you owe and to whom.
Step 2: Select Your Repayment Plan
Once you know how much you owe, you can look at options to repay your loans. You will receive a servicer’s notification listing the options you have to repay your loans (for a list of options, see the reverse side of this page). If you do not respond to the notification you will automatically be enrolled in the standard repayment plan. To change your plan you will need to contact your servicer. You will need to provide proof of income (i.e. W-2s, tax returns, pay stubs) if you want to set up an income driven payment plan. Private loans typically do not offer repayment plan options.
Review the different repayment options online at: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans
Use the Loan Repayment Calculator to determine your monthly payments on different plans: https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/mobile/repayment/repaymentEstimator.action
Step 3: Stay in Contact
Let your servicer know if your name, address, or phone number changes. If your financial circumstances change, you may want to switch into a different repayment plan. If you are worried that you might have trouble making your payments, contact your servicer(s) as soon as possible. You may be eligible to postpone (defer) your payments for a given period of time. You may be eligible for a forbearance as well (temporarily lower or suspend your payments). These options are available only if you are current on your loan. Get help before it is too late.
Step 4: Get help
Augsburg has partnered with Lutheran Social Services to offer free Student Loan counseling. A counselor will help you review your payment options. Visit http://lssmn.org/studentloancounseling/ to review their services and schedule an appointment.
Step 5: Consider Loan Forgiveness Options
Depending on your future career you may be eligible for loan forgiveness. Details of this program can be found by visiting: www.studentaid.ed.gov. Two specific programs are the Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
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Loan consolidation can be a useful tool to get a handle on your federal loans but it is not right for everyone. Make sure you understand the benefits and downfalls of consolidation before you go that route. Visit: http://studentloans.gov to learn more about consolidation as well as use the online calculator to determine what your monthly payments will be.