Experts say that private loans are one of the riskiest ways to pay for college. They propose that federal loans are the safest.
Student Loan Terms
Loan Amount:The total amount you borrowed
Loan Term:The amount of time you have to repay your loan
Monthly Payment:Monthly minimum you have to pay to stay current
Annual Interest Rate:The cost of borrowing money, usually calculated as a percentage of the total loan amount plus previous interest and applied on a monthly basis
Direct Subsidized Loan: The Federal government pays the interest while the student is in college or while the loan is in deferment.
Direct Unsubsidized Loan: Interest begins accruing as soon as the loan is taken out.
Deferment: A period of time when the bank agrees to let you hold off on monthly payments – usually for a period of 6 months. Generally, interest continues to accumulate during a deferment
In-school Deferment: Mandatory deferment (usually without interest) for full time students. Expires 6 months after student ceases full time enrollment
Loan Default: Cessation of loan terms due to non-payment.
Limit Your Debt
The best way to avoid becoming overwhelmed by student loan debt is to limit how much you take out in the first place. Here are some steps that can help you keep a lid on things.
Exhaust all grant and scholarship options: Pell Grants are a valuable alternative for low-income students going to college, but there are other resources, too. Student Loan Hero has compiled over 120 repayment assistance programs that can help you pay down your debt, and there are many scholarships created specifically for women.
Push the Financial Aid Office for more: most universities have an office responsible for helping students with financial aid. Most schools consider student loan packages as a part of financial aid, but the office is there to help you, so push them to find more than just loans. They are a knowledgeable resource, but are limited, so the squeaky wheel gets the grease – meaning that the students who push them for more help are more likely to get additional non-loan options for aid (like grants and scholarships).
Take advantage of income-driven repayment plans: If you have federal student loans, an income driven repayment (IDR) plan can make your payments more manageable. Under an IDR plan, your payments are calculated based on your discretionary income, which can reduce what you owe each month.
Be your own advocate: You can help combat the wage gap by understanding your market value and asking for a raise when it’s deserved.
Consider refinancing: If you have high-interest loans, your balance can balloon over time. Refinancing your student loans can help you save money or reduce your monthly payment so your loans become more manageable. Refinancing is not for everyone but can be useful in some situations