Know Your Student Loan Servicer

KnowYourStudLnServicer

As you begin your life after college, you likely have several different responsibilities, from a new job to managing your own insurance and other activities. One important task is to get to know the servicer or servicers for your student loans.

What Is a Student Loan Servicer?

Your student loan servicer is the organization that handles customer service, including collecting and tracking your payments, for the loan. Depending on the number and type of your student loans, you may have one servicer or several.

Why Do I Need to Know Who My Servicer Is?

You need to be aware of your servicer for several reasons.

  1. You will soon need to start repaying your student loans, and you need to know where and when to send payment. You may also want to set up features, such as an online account and automatic withdrawals, that will help you manage your student loan payments.
  2. Your servicer can help you understand and choose from available payment plans. Most borrowers enter repayment under a standard payment plan that pays off the loan in equivalent monthly payments over the full term of the loan, but you may be able to choose a different plan that works better for your current situation. If you are entering the workforce at less than what you expected to earn, you may be able to make lower payments based on your income or according to a preset formula at first. If, on the other hand, you have the chance to make higher payments now before you have additional family, car and housing expenses, work with your servicer to determine the best way to pay down your debt.
  3. Your servicer may offer assistance if needed. If you don’t have or lose your income or you face another difficulty that makes student loan repayment challenging, you may be eligible to postpone payment. You will need to work with your servicer to understand your options and choose the one that works for you. Be aware that interest continues to accrue on student loans during repayment, and unpaid interest may capitalize, or be added to your principal balance, at the end of assistance. In certain cases, you may be eligible to have some or all your student loan debt forgiven, and your servicer can help with that as well.

How Do I Locate My Servicer?

Your servicer may be the entity that provided your loan or it may be a separate entity that acts on behalf of the current owner of the loan.

  1. Determine if you have federal student loans. Often called Stafford or Direct loans, these loans are provided by the federal government and were likely included in the financial aid package you received from the college you attended.
  2. Use your FSA ID to log in to the National Student Loan Data System. If you filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid after May 2015, you probably created an FSA ID then. If it’s been some time since you filed a FAFSA, you may need to visit fsaid.ed.gov to create an ID. Then go to nslds.ed.gov to log in and view your federal loan information, including the servicer.
  3. If you have private student loans you obtained from a bank, credit union or other lender to pay remaining college costs after your financial aid, refer to the information your lender provided when you took out the loan and progressed through school. As the due date for your first payment approaches, you will likely receive communications from the lender or servicer about how to make your payment.

If you can’t locate a private student loan servicer, contact the entity that lent you the money or your financial aid office. You may also be able to see your lender or servicer name on your credit report (remember to access a free report at annualcreditreport.com).

By: Iowa Student Loan

Seven Tips for Summer Internships

7-Tips-Summer-Internships

Interning during college can help you prepare for the job market as you gain important skills and contacts. These tips will help you get started.

Cast a wide net.
This is your opportunity to explore careers and employers, or take on a dream job, before settling down to your permanent career. Consider organizations like the FBI, Disney, MGM, Marvel Comics or the Jane Goodall Institute.

Combine two of your goals.
Many college students gain a global perspective through a study abroad program. Similar work abroad programs can help you gain a new perspective on another culture as well as apply your studies in new ways. Start with your campus study abroad office to learn about reputable organizations and needed documentation or other requirements to work in another country.

Know what you want to gain.
You can use an internship to define or affirm existing goals, set new ones, earn money or academic credit, meet potential contacts or mentors, gain entry to a coveted employer, or all of the above. Define your goals for your internship so you know which potential employers and workplaces to focus on.

Know what you offer.
Internships, especially paid positions, can be competitive. Be prepared to treat the search and acquisition of an internship just like you would a job: prepare a resume and cover letters, interview professionally and sell your skills and enthusiasm.

Ask for help.
Besides searching for internships online and through your campus career office, let family and friends, former employers and teachers, and others know you’re looking for certain types of internships. These connections can help pave the way with their acquaintances if needed.

Be flexible and reliable.
Some internship providers will have set projects that will help you gain important skills, while others may not know exactly what to do with you. Be prepared to accept projects or tasks others don’t have the time or desire to complete. Use the opportunity to learn more about the inside workings of the organization, make connections and develop suggestions for improvement.

Meet the requirements for credit.
You may be able to earn academic credit for an internship. Work with your campus career office or the related academic department to determine if you need to meet certain prerequisites, complete required paperwork or turn in a project or report to earn credit.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Before the Next Big Step: What to Do After Graduation

It may seem like everyone else has it all figured out, and you are undoubtedly tired of the question “What will you do after graduation?” But, if your plans are not yet set as the big ceremony approaches, be assured you are not the first or last to be in this situation.

Whether you’re a new high school grad who isn’t sure about college or you’ve finished a college degree but haven’t been able to land the job you want, here are some suggestions for what to do until you’re able to take the next big step:

Keep Working Toward Your Goals
Don’t let inertia or rejection take over your attitude. Continue working on ways to improve your chances of getting the job you want or being admitted to your desired college.

  • Continue to send out resumes or explore education options.
  • Work on your soft skills, like communication techniques, teamwork, initiative and creative thinking.
  • Review your resume and practice interviews with a professional.
  • Clean up social media accounts.

Volunteer
Opportunities abound to provide service to those who need it. Check out volunteer options that help you expand your horizons and suit your interests. Many volunteer opportunity and matching sites are available online, including:

  • Createthegood.org
  • Dosomething.org
  • Unitedway.org
  • Volunteer.gov
  • Volunteermatch.org

Work
You may have student loans to repay or other expenses, so consider working even if you haven’t found an ideal job. You can:

  • Work one or more part-time jobs that provide skills related to your career choice.
  • Try out a type of career you haven’t previously considered.
  • Provide freelance or consulting services in a field you have knowledge in.
  • Start your own company.
  • Teach something you have a passion for, such as yoga, skiing or beginning coding.

Take a Short-Term Position
Although many opportunities are designed strictly for current college students, you may be able to find paid or unpaid positions.

  • Find an internship related to your degree or in a completely different field you’d like to try out.
  • Apprenticeships may be available to recent college graduates and can offer a good chance to break into a specific job market.
  • Research assistantships are available in both scientific and non-scientific fields.

Travel
This may be your best opportunity to explore the country and the world, before you are committed to a full-time job, settle down with a partner and children, and have social and financial obligations that would prevent it.

  • Work abroad as a nanny, an English teacher or in another capacity.
  • Get a job on a cruise ship or train as an airline attendant.
  • Join a program like Peace Corps, Americorps, GoAbroad or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
  • Become a tourist or adventure guide.

Get a Degree
Even if you’ve already earned a college degree, you may want to continue your education if you have the funds and time.

  • Retrain in a different major or field.
  • Take continuing education classes.
  • Go back to school to get an advanced degree.

Have an Adventure
Like travel, an adventure may be best experienced while you don’t have too many other obligations. Options are limited only by your imagination and come with varying levels of risk and financial commitment.

  • Fix up a house.
  • Audition for a reality show.
  • Take a commercial fishing job.
  • Become a roadie for a band on tour.

By: Iowa Student Loan

The Graduation Checklist for Parents

This milestone for your student can mean a lot of work for you. Use this checklist to bring some order to the chaos.

□ Work with your student to be sure they’ve completed the administrative steps to officially graduate.

  • Remind your student to follow through on these tips for college students and high school graduates.
  • Your student should receive information on how and where to obtain a cap and gown—along with any special stoles, pins, tassels or regalia—for the ceremony.

□ Consider mementos of the occasion.

  • Your student will have the opportunity to order class rings, yearbooks and other products to mark this important milestone. Check for deadlines.
  • Graduation is also a good opportunity for family and individual photos. Many photographers specialize in senior portraits.

□ Make any reservations required.

  • If you will be traveling to a college graduation, you may find that hotel rooms and transportation options are booked quickly and up to a year in advance.
  • Graduation party venues may also become scarce depending on location and number of other graduates on your desired date.
  • If you will order baked goods, catering, tents or other services, be sure to start that process early.

□ Invite friends and family to the party.

  • Work with your student to plan a celebration everyone will enjoy.
  • If guests ask what they can gift to your high school graduate, consider suggesting contributions to a college saving account or a gift card that can be used for textbooks and materials.
  • Don’t forget to have thank-you cards on hand for your student to send shortly after the celebration.

□ Start planning the move.

  • Whether your college student is moving to a new job or returning home for a while, he or she may need assistance. See our moving checklist for college graduates.
  • As your high school graduate prepares to move to campus, keep a copy of the college’s suggested packing list handy. Also see some items you may want to take care of before fall term begins.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Student Loan Pro Tip: First Year Salary (Video)

Borrowing more than you can comfortably afford to pay back is setting yourself up for a difficult financial future. A simple rule to follow is not to borrow more to pay for college than your expected first year salary.

To learn more about student loans and avoiding debt, check out our Smart Borrowing resources: http://www.iowastudentloan.org/smartborrowing.

By: Iowa Student Loan

10 Budget Tips for Spring Break (Infographic)

Download Infographic as a PDF.

Spring break can mean fun, sun and no worries, unless you blow your budget. Use these tips to help you stay on track during break and save your money for your education.

1. Plan ahead.

Start scouting for sales and less-expensive options early. Check out flights, hotels, destinations and activities so you don’t pay more for last-minute decisions. Read reviews of the activities or venues you want to include to see if they’re worth the cost. Also, pack everything you’re likely to need to avoid tourist prices on sunscreen, sunglasses, raingear, chargers and attire.

2. Take a cheaper flight.

Airfare is expensive, especially during high traffic times like spring break. But you can save some money by flying discount airlines, at off-peak times and days, non-direct and through alternate airports. In addition, check to see whether you can save by sitting separately from your companions and avoiding baggage fees.

3. Drive or ride instead of flying.

Buses and trains may get you where you want to go at a big savings. Or, get together with friends to share a road trip to your destination. These may take longer than flying but can be as much fun as the destination.

4. Take the road less traveled.

The beaches of the eastern seaboard are often less crowded than those of Florida, Mexico or Texas during spring break and can offer savings. Maybe this is the ideal time for you to explore the mountains or the desert and avoid the party scene.

5. Stay for less.

Apps and sites like Airbnb, VRBO and hostels.com can point you to less expensive lodging wherever you decide to go. Consider camping if you’re driving—government-owned sites are often least expensive, and you can even rent camping gear. To spend even less, stay with someone you know. Check out options for your final destination and lodging along the way.

6. Save on activities.

Look for discounts before you go through memberships like Costco and AAA, as well as apps like RoadTrippers, Groupon and Living Social. Also, an Internet search may turn up promotional codes you can use when you book. Once you arrive, some places may offer a discount if you show your student ID, and look for coupon books in the lobbies of hotels.

7. Save on food.

Depending on how you’re traveling, it may make sense to stock up on food for meals and snacks as well as beverages before you leave. If you’re flying, look for discount chains once you arrive. Preparing your own food will save on high restaurant and venue costs. See more tips for budget dining on spring break. <link to other post>

8. Avoid impulse buying.

It’s tempting to pick up a memento of your trip or to indulge yourself. Think about whether that coconut mug or t-shirt will get any use when you get back, or if the signature drink is worth the cost. Set a budget for each day and stick to it. You could even only bring the amount of cash you want to spend with you, leaving your credit card and extra cash in the hotel safe.

9. Use your legs.

Instead of renting a car, taking cabs or using Uber, consider renting a bike or simply walking where you need to go at your destination.

10. Stay out of trouble.

Avoid large fines and penalties by knowing and abiding by the laws at your destination, including those for driving, consuming alcoholic beverages and noise.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Working During Spring Break

How much money can you save by working over spring break instead of going on a trip? The specific answer depends on several circumstances, but the average savings could be in the thousands of dollars. Here’s a breakdown.

Assume you make $9 an hour and work eight hours a day for six days of a nine-day break. Your earnings after taxes would be $375.

Add to that your savings for not traveling to a typical spring break destination, which could be over $1,000. See how you can apply these earnings to college expenses.

Earnings  
Hourly Wage $9
Hours Worked Over Break (9 Days) 48
Net Earnings After Taxes $375
Savings  
Average Flight + Hotel Cost (5-Night Stay) See source $1,077
Total (Net Earnings + Travel Savings) $1,452

By: Iowa Student Loan

New Tool Helps Students Make Informed Grad School Decision

Iowa Student Loan Encourages Grad Degree Candidates to Consider Future Debt

Iowa Student Loan has a new online tool to help students make informed decisions about their borrowing levels and their ability to successfully repay new student loan debt when considering the pursuit of an advanced degree.

The Grad Degree Gauge is a free tool available online.

Users are encouraged to consider their current and potential annual salaries with and without the new graduate degree; previous and future borrowing to pay for their education; and opportunities in a career associated with the intended graduate degree.

“I felt [the Grad Degree Gauge] was extremely helpful,” said Jordan Doetkott, a first-year graduate student studying organizational leadership at Grand View University in Des Moines. “It was very user friendly and a great asset to someone pursuing a master’s degree….it was straightforward and easy to navigate.”

The results are displayed as a number on a 0–100 gauge. The overall result is a composite of four indicators:

  • Current student loan debt in addition to maximum advisable new student loan debt
  • Anticipated salary change from the amount expected to be earned by holders of the previous degree, or the user’s actual salary if the user is currently in the workforce, to the amount expected to be earned by holders of the intended graduate degree
  • Number of new jobs in the indicated career by 2024 as projected by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Percentage of people working in the indicated career who have a graduate degree as indicated by the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics

“A lot of factors can come into play when people decide whether it makes sense to pursue an advanced degree,” said Steve McCullough, president and CEO of Iowa Student Loan. “We want the ability to repay student loan debt to be one of the main things that students think about, whether they are continuing their education straight from a previous degree or going back to school after being in the workforce.”

 

Additional Resources
Also being debuted by Iowa Student Loan is the Parent Handbook, which consists of valuable tips that help families of students in sixth through 12th grades prepare for success in college and other postsecondary options. The Handbook is designed to address common questions and provide a roadmap for academic and financial success.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Plan to Transfer? Tips for a Smooth Transition

The process of transferring from one college to another can be painstaking and time-consuming. These tips can help you transition more easily.

Transfer for the right reasons. You may be in a two-year program looking to complete a four-year degree, you may be looking for a specific program your current school falls short on, you might want to move closer to or further from home, or perhaps you chose a less-desirable college to begin with when you weren’t accepted to your top-choice schools. These can all be good reasons to change. Other problems, like an inability to form a social group, mental or emotional issues, or financial or academic struggles, may or may not be solved by attending a different school. Have a plan for how the transfer will resolve these issues.

Start the process early. The steps detailed below can take time and effort. To increase your chances of success in your new college, give yourself plenty of time to handle the transfer process.

Keep up with your current coursework. This may be difficult depending on your reasons for transferring, but a high GPA and good recommendations from your current professors will increase your chances of being accepted to a new program.

Fill in the blanks. Once you have a list of target schools, research the following to be sure you have the complete picture before applying.

  • Transfer acceptance rate: Generally, the acceptance rate for transfer students is slightly lower than it is for incoming freshman. You can find transfer statistics for a specific school by doing an online search for the college name and “Common Data Set” to see data reported by the college. Don’t forget that competitive or impacted majors may have separate eligibility requirements or acceptance rates at some colleges.
  • Admission requirements: Make sure you meet the minimum number of credit hours, minimum GPA and other eligibility requirements for transfer students. Start on the college’s website. Also, if a target school is one that accepted you as an incoming freshman, contact the school to determine if your previous acceptance still stands or if you need to re-apply.
  • Application process: Some programs will require transfer students to provide letters of recommendation, transcripts from college and maybe high school, or an essay explaining why they want to transfer. If you’re asked to write an essay, remember to provide specific details on how the new program is a better fit for you rather than writing negatively about your current school.
  • Aid available to transfer students: Many schools offer their largest scholarships to incoming freshmen. Research the grants and scholarships available to transfer students from the target school and the department to have a better idea of affordability.
  • Fit for academic and career goals: Make sure the new program is a fit for your goals by looking at graduation and placement rates, course descriptions and syllabi, and career and academic services offered.
  • Credit transfers: Even when transferring from a community college to a four-year program with an admissions or articulation agreement, you may find that not all your credits apply in the same manner at the target school. Be sure you understand how credits will be applied toward graduation and program requirements so you know if you will graduate on time without repeating coursework or outlasting scholarships with a renewal limit.
  • Transfer atmosphere: Find out how transfer-friendly your target schools are by seeing if they offer academic advisers, orientation programs, visits, housing or other programs specifically for transfer students. These offerings can make a difference in your ability to find a new social community and assistance on a new campus.

Know how your financial aid is affected. Besides merit aid available to transfer students, understand how your current financial aid will be affected by a move. Use the Common Data Set and call the financial aid office to find answers to your questions about aid at a new school.

  • Change in federal funds: Some federally funded but campus-based aid, like Federal Work-Study, is never portable. You will lose these awards and may or may not see them matched by your new school, depending on that school’s cost of attendance, financial aid policies and available funds. Federal loan limits may also be affected by transferring from a two-year program to a four-year college. If you transfer mid-term, some federal financial aid funds may be returned to the government.
  • Loss of state and institutional aid: Your current school will no longer provide financial aid awards for attendance at your new college. If you change states, you will not receive funds from the state of your previous college; if you stay in the same state, you may receive fewer state funds based on timing and funding availability.
  • FAFSA updates: Unless you transfer between academic years, you will need to update your current FAFSA with your new school choices. This will result in a new Student Aid Report and financial aid packages from the new schools. If you don’t receive this information within four weeks of resubmitting your FAFSA, contact each school’s financial aid office.
  • Student loan repayment timeline: Contact your student loan lender about your plans to leave one school and re-enroll in another. If you are re-enrolling immediately at least half time, you will likely be eligible for deferment on your student loan payments; otherwise, you may need to start repaying previously disbursed loans within six months.
  • Other financial considerations. If you currently attend school as in-state student but plan to transfer to an out-of-state college, your tuition costs may increase dramatically. In addition, if the transfer of credits or changing programs results in taking longer to graduate, you will incur additional costs before graduation.

Make connections. Once you know which schools you will apply to as a transfer student, start making connections. Contact academic advisers, professors and internship offices to understand how they will assist you in your new program. Visit campuses if possible. Connect with other students, especially other transfer students, through social media.

Get a good start. Once you have finalized your transfer choice, continue to connect with other transfer students at orientation sessions specifically for transfer students. Get involved in activities and talk to classmates in your upper-level courses to meet more people with interests similar to yours. Find an on-campus job to meet people and earn extra money. Get to the career center right away to be sure you’re ready to take on internships and find a job after graduation.

By: Iowa Student Loan

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