This seems like a silly question to answer; however, 65% of graduates say that they didn't know what they were agreeing to when they signed up for their student loans. Colleges and Universities do a great job of putting together financing packages to make sure that you can attend the school; however, they don't always do the best job of explaining to you exactly what is in your student loan package. It's important for you to understand what type of loans you own because they all have various repayment features and penalties. Here is a list and description of some loans that you may have.
- Stafford Loans – these are the most common federal student loans and they can be either subsidized for unsubsidized. If you have a subsidized loan, then the Federal government paid the interest for you while you were in school. If you have an unsubsidized loan, then your interest began accruing as soon as you took out the loans, and then that accrued interest is added to your loan amount outstanding when you graduate.
- Perkins Loans – these federal loans are provided for those who demonstrate financial need and the schools administer them directly.
- PLUS Loans – are available to graduate and professional students as well as parents of dependent undergraduate students.
- Consolidation Loans – combine one or two pre-existing loans into one larger loan with a fixed interest rate. They are generally longer term than the other student loan options.
- Institutional Loans – these are loans that are provided directly to students from the schools.
- State Loans – these loans are provided directly from the state to students who attend state colleges and universities.
- Private Loans - these are available to students who are ineligible for federal aid or those who do not receive enough aid to cover the cost of education. Financial institutions typically issue them.
As part of the process of researching all of the various loan types that you own, you should create a spreadsheet to track all of these details. We have provided one for you here in this guide, and at the very least your spreadsheet should include the following details on your loans.
- Loan amount
- Type of loan, for example, federal or private and so forth
- Interest rate of the loan as well as whether or not the loan is a fixed interest rate or a variable interest rate
- Websites where you can find information on your loans
- Your Login and password for these websites
- Monthly payment dates and well as your final Repayment due dates for the various loans
If you took out one to two loans per semester to fund your education, then by the time you graduated, you would have 16 loans that you will have to track going forward. Many of these loans are probably candidates for consolidation; however, you will have others that cannot be consolidated. Therefore, it is critical to have all of this information organized and in one place. The process for creating this spreadsheet will be time consuming and tedious; however, it will save you a great deal of time and energy down the road. It will also make it easier for you to determine the next step.