We recommend that in addition to looking for the answer to your question on this page, you should read through our Planning for Loan Repayment and Loan Repayment Options pages on this site to familiarize yourself with the terms and repayment options which are available.

There really is no one correct answer to any of these questions. As you will see, in most cases the answer will depend on your particular situation, so not only should you try to familiarize yourself with as much information about the process as possible, it is also always a good idea to check with the servicer of your loan about a specific question.

The lender is the organization from which you borrowed your loans. If you have Direct Loans, the lender is the federal government. If you borrowed through FFELP, the lender was either a bank or other financial institution.

The guarantor is the organization which provides a guarantee of repayment to your lender if you should default on a loan. Most student loans will have an origination fee or guarantee fee deducted from the loan before it is sent to you and these fees go to the guarantor.

Some lenders service their own loans but many hire companies to do the servicing for them. This servicer is the borrowers contact for requests for loan repayment inquiries, deferment or forbearance, and payments are sent to the loan servicer. You can visit nslds.ed.gov to find out who your federal student loan servicer is and to obtain their contact information.

The federal stafford and Grad PLUS loans become due six months after you graduate or cease to be enrolled at least half-time. For students who graduate in May, this means that your first payment will be due November/December of the year you graduate. Payments on Perkins loan which have not been consolidated become due nine months after you graduate or cease to be enrolled half-time.

It is important to note that student loans borrowed prior to attending law school may go into repayment earlier if more than six months elapsed between leaving undergraduate or graduate school and the start of law school. In this case, your undergraduate and/or graduate school loans will go into repayment approximately 30 days after you graduate law school. Additionally, if you took a leave of absence from law school that lasted more than six months, the loans you borrowed prior to taking the leave will go into repayment 30 days after you graduate and the loans borrowed after will retain their grace period and deferment options. You may want to consider requesting a forbearance or deferment on loans that go into repayment early.

If you temporarily are unable to make a payment you should contact your loan servicer to request a forbearance which will suspend your loan repayment for up to six months. If you are unable to afford your monthly payment, you should explore other repayment options which may lower your monthly payment.

If you are not working and your grace period has expired, contact your loan servicer to inquire about either a deferment or forbearance. Your loan servicer will be willing to work with you and can guide you to your best option.

Consolidation is when you combine or move one or more federal student loans into a single new loan. Loan consolidation can make repayment easier because you will have a single loan to repay instead of many different loans spread across different lenders.

You should consider consolidation if:

  • You have FFELP loans that you borrowed after October 1, 2007 which are ineligible for the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) repayment plan and you want to take advantage of that repayment option;
  • you do not have a Direct Loan disbursement after 10/1/11 to become eligible for PAYE; you may consolidate any loans made after 10/1/07 to satisfy that requirement;
  • you have loans that are being serviced by different agencies, for example undergraduate Stafford loans with Sallie Mae and law school Stafford loans with Federal Loan servicing and you want to pay your loans with a single monthly payment;
  • you have many different types of loans, for example some loans under the FFEL Program and other loans under the Direct Loan Program and you want to combine them to make one loan; or
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, you have FFELP Loans and want to take advantage of the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program–to make those loans eligible for Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you must consolidate those loans under the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Program.

Your payments should be sent to your loan servicer. Your lender will send you information on where and when to send your payments. If you don’t know, you can find this information on NSLDS. Most servicers allow you to make payments online, or to sign up for automatic debit.

Yes. There is no penalty for prepayment of your loans. You should contact your servicer to determine the best way to pay the extra amount, on either a one-time or recurring basis, to ensure that the payment is credited toward your outstanding principal.

Contact your loan servicer to determine if you are currently in the repayment option which requires the lowest monthly payment. If your circumstances have changed since you first entered repayment, it is possible to change repayment plans.

If you do not make your student loan payments or make late payments, your loan will go into delinquent status and may eventually go into default. Delinquent and default student loan status is reported to the credit bureaus, and will have a negative impact on your credit rating and future borrowing ability. In the case of default, the Department of Education also has the authority to legally require wage garnishment and withholding of tax refunds.

You may be able to deduct interest you pay on a qualified student loan. Depending on your income, you may be able to deduct the lesser of $2,500 or the amount of interest you actually paid, The deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income so you do not need to itemize your deductions to benefit from this deduction.

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