If you’ve borrowed money for college, it’s important to repay responsibly. If you have federal loans, there are programs in place to help you out if you are unemployed or can only make low monthly payments, for example. Learn more from the office of Federal Student Aid.
If you are still taking out loans, borrow wisely with our tips on types of loans and more.
Repayment adviceFollow these tips to stay on track:
- Start early. If you’re able to pay off interest while you’re still in college, you’ll save money over the long run. Remember, your loan repayments will consist of principal (the original amount you borrowed), plus interest. The longer you take to pay back your loans, the more you’ll pay in interest.
- Calculate your payment. Find the loan repayment plan that works for you, before the bill arrives. Use the loan calculators from FinAid.org. If you have federal loans, explore your repayment options, including loan consolidations or deferment.
- Keep your lender informed of any changes in your name, address, email address, phone number, Social Security Number or school enrollment status.
- Make loan payments regularly, even if you don’t receive a bill or repayment notice. Billing statements are sent to you as a convenience, but you have to make payments even if you don’t receive any reminders.
- Don’t default. The consequences for failing to pay back your loan can be severe and long lasting. Your credit rating could be damaged, and you might not be able to buy a car or receive your federal income tax refund (which will be applied to your loan balance instead).
- Ask for help. Repayment options are available to assist you if you’re having trouble making your loan payments. Your lender is more likely to be flexible if you are proactive about seeking help.
Budgeting resourcesThe best way to pay for college is getting in the habit of saving a little bit at a time on a regular basis. To get started, you need to create a budget. A budget tells how much you can afford to set aside after all your household expenses have been paid. Follow these steps to create your budget:
- Add up all your household income for one month.
- Add up your fixed expenses: your monthly loan repayment costs plus essential costs like rent or mortgage payments, food, utility bills and car expenses, such as gas and insurance. These expenses shouldn’t vary too much month to month.
- Subtract your total fixed expenses from your total income.
- The money that remains can be spent on flexible expenses, such as entertainment and eating out, or put in your “rainy day” fund for those unexpected expenses that always come up.
Free online resources can help with budgeting, including the Student Budget Calculator and Family Budget Analyzer at FinAid.org. Many money management software tools can help you budget, too, but all you really need is a pencil, some paper and a commitment to repaying your loans.