As part of the prestigious Ivy League, graduating from Princeton University can set you up for a bright future. Although Princeton has the reputation to jump start your career, getting a degree from the university isn’t cheap. The total cost of attendance is over $67,000 a year.
Even though Princeton is known for its generous financial aid programs, you still probably had to use federal or private student loans to fill the gap and pay for school. That can mean graduating with a large student loan balance, which could put a lot of pressure on you to find a job and start making payments.
Although your loans are overwhelming, you can take control of your debt. Here’s how to manage your Princeton University student loans.
1. Identify what loans you have
To pay for school, you might have taken out several different loans from various lenders. Each loan could have different repayment terms and loan servicers, so it’s important to find out what loans you have and who they’re with.
If you’re not sure who your lender is, you can find out in one of two ways:
- If you have federal loans, look them up on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)
- Check your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com to see every debt in your name
As a graduate from Princeton, you could have one or more of following loans:
Federal loans include Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct Plus Loans. Depending on your educational level and your needs, you could have many different forms of federal loans.
Princeton Subsidized Loan
If you exhausted your federal options and still needed a loan to cover your costs, the school offers a needs-based Princeton Subsidized Loan. With these loans, Princeton University is your lender, rather than the government or a private company.
These loans tend to have lower interest rates, and because they’re subsidized, the school covers the interest that accrues while you’re in school. For the 2016-17 school year, Princeton Subsidized Loans offered a 5% fixed interest rate. Repayment begins nine months after graduation.
Princeton Parent Loan
To help you pay for school, your parents might have taken out a Princeton Parent Loan (PPL) directly through the school.
Although you aren’t legally responsible for this type of debt, you might still have an agreement with your parents to help make payments. Make sure you talk to your family about their expectations and their own financial situation.
If you exhausted federal and school-based student aid options, you might have had to turn to private student loans to pay for the remaining balance. Private loan terms vary from lender to lender. Find out who your loan servicer is by checking your credit report, then contact them for more information.
2. Learn about your options
Now that you’ve taken stock of what you owe, figure out a plan for how you’ll pay it off. Here’s how to better manage your debt.
Income-driven repayment plans
If you have federal student loans and can’t keep up with your payments on your current salary, you could be eligible for an income-driven repayment plan. Under an IDR plan, the government extends your repayment term and caps your monthly payment at a percentage of your discretionary income.
Signing up for IDR can dramatically reduce your payment. Depending on which IDR plan you sign up for, the government will even forgive any remaining loan balance after you make qualifying payments for 20 or 25 years (if you have any debt left over.
However, keep in mind that you will be paying interest on your debt for much longer with this method. That can cost you hundreds or even thousands more than it would have on a Standard Repayment Plan. Learn more about the benefits and possible drawbacks of IDR before enrolling.
If you can afford your monthly student loan bill, but have difficulty keeping track of your different federal loan payments, one option to consider is a Direct Consolidation Loan. The government will consolidate your loans into one big loan. This will make your new interest rate a weighted average of your combined loans.
With this approach, you have just one loan servicer and one monthly payment to keep track of, making managing your loans a little easier. You can apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan online for free in as little as 30 minutes.
While consolidation can be a good strategy for managing your loans, there are some drawbacks. Consolidating your loans could extend the repayment term. That means you’ll pay more in interest over the life of your loans. At the very least, you won’t save any money.
In addition, if you plan to pursue federal forgiveness programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), consolidating your loans may start the clock over. Any payments you made toward forgiveness might not count.
Assistance and forgiveness programs
Unlike other Ivy League schools, Princeton doesn’t offer assistance or forgiveness programs for alumni. However, you could be eligible for assistance from your state government or private organizations.
These programs may cover some or all of your remaining student loans. To find the right fit for you, check out this complete list of student loan repayment assistance programs.
Student loan refinancing
Princeton University graduates tend to have higher than average salaries; the median starting salary for Princeton alumni with a bachelor’s degree is $61,300, according to the Houston Chronicle. If you have high-interest student loans, that means you could be an excellent candidate for refinancing.
With refinancing, you work with a private lender to take out a new loan for the total amount of your current loans. The new loan will have different repayment terms than your current debt. You may have a reduced interest rate, lower monthly payment, or shorter/longer repayment period.
Depending on your goals, refinancing can be a significant help. If your goal is to save money, getting a lower interest rate can help you pay off your debt faster — saving you thousands over the length of your loan.
However, you should carefully consider all of your options before refinancing, particularly if you have federal loans. Make sure you understand the potential drawbacks of refinancing your student loans before applying.
Student Loan Refinancing Calculator
Managing your Princeton student loans
Although a degree from Princeton University can be a huge asset, it can also leave you with significant student loan debt. Make sure you understand all of your options and come up with a plan to manage your loans. By being proactive, you can take control of your loans to become debt free more quickly.
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