What do you do when your federal student loan doesn’t cover all of your college expenses?
Most likely you’ll turn to private student loan lenders like Sallie Mae, or a personal bank or credit union. While private student loans can help you cover all of your college costs, they can wreak havoc on your finances down the road.
That’s because private student loans aren’t regulated by any government agencies. So private lenders get to set all the terms and conditions on the student loans they offer.
Most importantly, private lenders get to decide when you actually have to start repaying those private student loans, regardless of your overall financial or educational situation.
Here are a few questions to keep in mind when reviewing private student loan repayment conditions prior to signing on the dotted line.
When do I have to pay?
Hopefully, you’ve read your loan agreement before signing and have an idea of when your private student loan repayment should start.
For federal student loans and most private student loans, repayment starts six months or so after you’ve graduated from college. This is typically the industry standard.
While student loans get you the money you need to pay for college, after you graduate you’ll be paying a lot of money in interest for loans you took out years ago.
Thankfully, most private student loans have caught on to the fact that students can’t pay while they’re still in school. However, some still do require in-school payments. Always make sure you read over your loan documents before you sign them.
What’s a grace period?
Most private lenders offer a six-month grace period after you graduate during which you don’t have to make student loan payments.
A grace period gives you a little time to get on your feet, find a job, etc. Check your loan agreement to see what kind of grace period you have.
You should use your grace period to your advantage by saving aggressively while you aren’t making monthly payments. Try and tuck away a few hundred dollars each month for your student loan payments. And don’t let lifestyle inflation set in.
Or, if you have the financial means, consider getting a head start on your student loan payments by paying them. Then, once your private student loan repayment period officially begins, you’re already a little bit ahead of the game.
Can I defer my student loan payments?
Deferment is another option for giving yourself more time before you have to repay your student loans.
It’s more commonly offered for federal student loans, but some lenders also offer deferment options for private student loan repayment if you meet certain criteria.
If you’re going back to school, have a limited income, or are enrolled in a certification class or in an internship,check with your lender to see if they offer deferment or forbearance options.
Just remember that interest is still accruing even when you defer payments. So do the math and make sure deferment is financially the best option for you.
Should I start private student loan repayment while in school?
While most student loans don’t require payments while you’re in school, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start paying them off early if you can afford it.
One of the biggest reasons to start making payments on private loans right away is the interest.
On top of the principal of the loan, you’re also accruing interest every month even when you’re in school. That means you’ll be paying the principal, the interest, and the interest on that interest if you don’t start private student loan repayment early.
Paying off some of that interest while you’re still in college will also help your overall loan balance stay manageable. Plus, it will give you some relief when it comes to making full student loan payments after graduation.
Be your own advocate and make sure you fully understand what you are agreeing to when it comes to private student loan repayment before signing your documents.
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2 = CollegeAve Autopay Disclaimer: All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
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|4.04% - 12.66%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CollegeAve|
|4.11% - 12.19%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Ascent|
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|2.93% - 9.67%||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CommonBond|
|3.78% - 11.99%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit Citizens|
|4.51% - 9.69%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit LendKey|
|3.91% - 11.45%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Connext|