How to Keep Student Loan Debt From Taking Over Your Life

man with empty pockets, text reads how to keep student debt from taking over your life

So, you graduated college, and now you have a degree, a job and mounds of student loan debt. You’re not alone. Student loans can seem daunting and you may have to do more than cut out a Starbucks run here or there, but student loans do not have to take over your life! Understanding your student loans is the best way to conquer them. Here are some common student loan repayment questions and answers.

graphic of student loan bill, calculator, money and other items

When are my first student loan payments due?

This depends on the type of loan. Most federal student loans have a six-month grace period. This means, for the first six months after graduation or leaving school, you will not need to make loan payments. In addition, many private loan lenders offer a similar automatic deferment period, sometimes called a separation period, after college. However, this is not the case for all loans. Private loans that required full principal and interest payments or interest-only payments throughout college usually don’t have a separation period.

You may have loans with different requirements. Check your promissory notes or credit agreements to see if you have a grace or separation period. It’s very important to understand when your first payment comes due for each loan. If you don’t know or don’t have your original loan documents, call your lender or loan servicer. This is also a good time to ask what your minimum monthly payment is if you don’t already know. If possible, it’s a good idea to begin making payments of some amount during your grace period to save money and time in repayment. Being prepared with this information will give you time to plan ahead so you don’t miss your first payment.

How do I start paying off my student loans?

Starting something brand new, like paying off loans, can be very overwhelming. If you have a variety of student loans, figuring out who to pay and how much you owe is even more complicated. Like many students, you may have taken out both private and federal student loans with different terms.

Once you’re no longer in your grace period, the first step to managing your loans is organizing and understanding each loan you have. To begin, create an accurate list of all your loans, including interest rates, the repayment term length, the minimum monthly payment amount, and the lenders’ or loan servicers’ contact information. You may want to keep track of this information in a notebook or spreadsheet that you can easily access for reference. If you’re not sure if your loans are private or federal, don’t worry, you are not alone.

Some common types of federal loans include:

  • Stafford Loans (subsidized or unsubsidized)
  • Perkins Loans
  • Federal Direct Loans (subsidized or unsubsidized)
  • Parent PLUS Loans
  • Grad PLUS Loans

How much time do I have to pay off my student loans?

This depends on the repayment terms of your loans. Most federal student loans have repayment terms of 10 years with longer terms available for larger balances. Private student loan repayment terms vary by lender but generally are between 10 and 20 years.

In addition, there are different repayment plan options. Standard repayment plans usually require consistent monthly payment amounts, depending on if the loan’s interest rate is fixed or variable, and generally help you pay the least amount of interest over the life of the loan. Graduated repayment plans start with a lower payment amount that gradually increases over time. The graduated plan can be helpful for those just starting in their careers with limited incomes. Remember, however, you will be paying more interest on a graduated repayment plan, so if you need to use this type of plan, any extra payments you can make will help decrease the overall amount you will have to pay over time.

If you’d like to pay off your loans sooner, the good news is, just because your repayment term is for 10 years doesn’t mean it has to take you that long! Budgeting will help you save money in the long run so you can work on paying your loans off sooner.

jars with money saved in them labelled debt, savings and invest

How do I budget for my student loans?

This is exactly the right question to ask! To have the best possible handle on your loans, it’s necessary to budget around your loans. Start with determining your monthly income and subtracting your minimum monthly student loan payment amounts. This will give you a sense of how much money you have left over for other expenses and entertainment. You can use an online monthly budget calculator so you know where your money is going each month.

Making your budget balance may take a few tries. If you come in negative, you’ll have to adjust your expenses or develop a plan for more income. Saving is important, but don’t forget to budget a little bit of money for fun in your life.

Which student loans should I pay off first?

You should always pay your minimum monthly payments on time for every loan. If you have extra money to put toward student loan payments, it’s best to put that extra toward the loans with the highest rates first. Loans with high interest rates will cost you the most money in the long run. If those rates are also variable, you may want to focus on those too as interest rates in general have been rising over the last year and that is impacting variable rates. If you have a mix of private, subsidized and unsubsidized loans, PLUS or Grad PLUS loans, determine which loans have the highest rates or balances and focus extra payments to those first.

How do I save and pay off my student loans? Which should I do first?

If you have money left over after paying your minimum monthly payments, you might want to split it between savings and extra loan payments. Applying additional money above your minimum payment amount will help pay your loans off quicker. While it’s important to pay off loans, especially high interest loans, it is also a good idea to have a safety net for emergencies. Work on building an emergency fund that covers three to six months of expenses.

Also, consider any big events or purchases that are coming up in your life as they may shift your priorities. If you are getting married or want to buy a house, make sure you start to budget for these future expenses.

How do I save money for retirement while paying off student loans?

The best way to save money for retirement is to take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement programs. If your company offers 401(k) with match, you basically earn free money simply by contributing. Most financial experts recommend that you contribute at least as much as your employer will match to maximize money going toward retirement.

Can I buy a house if I have student loans?

Mortgage lenders generally look at your credit score and debt-to-income ratio (DTI) and consider your down payment when determining whether to approve an application, so focus on these areas to make yourself an attractive candidate for lending.

A high DTI can make it harder to obtain a mortgage. One way to lower your debt-to-income ratio while you have student loans is to pay off other types of debt such as high-interest credit cards or car loans.

While you may not be able to purchase your dream home just yet, begin by looking at starter homes that are within your means and start saving for your down payment. You may also want to consider government programs that help first-time home buyers and individuals who want to buy a home but are struggling with student loan debt.

How do I lower my student loan payments?

If you have private student loans, or a mix of federal and private, you may be able to lower your monthly payments by refinancing. While you may need a creditworthy cosigner if you haven’t established much credit, refinancing can be worth it in savings. The federal government also offers a consolidation program for federal student loans only, although it doesn’t typically lower interest rates as the existing rates are instead averaged.

By consolidating your loans and refinancing, you may be eligible for a lower interest rate that can save you thousands of dollars, so you have more money to live your life. To find out if you prequalify for refinancing with Iowa Student Loan, complete our simple pre-qualification process!

Find Out If You Prequalify Now

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

Maximize Your Graduation Money

MaximizeYourGradMoney

Your high school graduation is an occasion to reflect on past accomplishments and prepare for a new adventure in college. It can also be a veritable gold mine.

As college becomes increasingly expensive, many of your family and friends may opt to give you a gift of cash to help you offset your costs. While it might be tempting to use that newfound cash to upgrade your phone or gaming system, you could use that money in ways that will better help you prepare for college. Here are some ideas to make the most of monetary gifts you receive.

If you have: You could:
$50–$100
  • Get a haircut.
  • Have the oil changed in your car.
  • Buy a few dorm or personal care items.
  • Pick up an interview outfit.
  • Buy paper, pens and other supplies.
$100–$500
  • Rent some of your required books.
  • Pay for a campus parking permit.
  • Buy a bike to get around campus.
  • Pay program fees or club dues.
$500–$1,000
  • Get a computer or other electronics you need.
  • Put money toward your tuition bill.
  • Buy plane tickets to come home at the semester break.
  • Save for a rental deposit if you plan to live off campus next year.
  • Pay major- or activity-specific fees.
$1,000–$5,000
  • Save to use toward future tuition and fees.
  • Buy textbooks and supplies for one year.
  • Pay a summer’s rent for an off-campus house or apartment.
  • Cover fraternity or sorority dues and other expenses.
  • Cover insurance deductibles for a car or medical emergency.

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

Iowa Families Can Win Cash for Educational Expenses – Register by May 11

Iowa high school students and their families can enter weekly drawings for two $250 awards, and Iowa high school seniors can enter a grand prize drawing for two $1,500 awards by completing a free online tool that helps them estimate the total cost of a four-year undergraduate degree.

Learn more and enter the giveaway today!

Iowa high school students, and their parents or guardians, can enter their information for the drawings after completing the College Funding Forecaster until May 11. The free online tool provided by Iowa Student Loan uses information from students’ freshman year financial aid award packets, as well as outside scholarships and grants and family savings and earnings, to project estimated costs, funding gaps and potential student loan debt over four years.

“We want to help families make the connection between first-year costs and the total financial investment in a college education,” said Steve McCullough, president and CEO of Iowa Student Loan. “This tool helps them see how their costs might increase, what happens when one-year scholarship awards are exhausted, and how the family and student contributions can play a role in reducing overall costs.”

The tool allows families to customize both expenses and available funding to adjust results for changes in students’ situations over the four years. The results show yearly and total estimated costs of attendance, available funding and projected funding gaps. The tool also provides informational tips on how to reduce costs and potential debt.

After viewing their results, users have the opportunity to enter the drawings. Two names will be drawn each week to receive $250 awards for educational expenses. In a grand prize drawing, two names will also be drawn to each receive $1,500 for the students’ college expenses in fall 2017. The grand prizes will be paid directly to the students’ colleges.

For details and complete rules for the giveaway, visit www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Giveaway. Or, to begin the College Funding Forecaster and enter the giveaway, go to www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Forecaster.

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

Thirty Students Receive $2,000 College Scholarship

High school seniors earned the scholarship after demonstrating financial know-how.

High school seniors from across the state of Iowa earned $2,000 for college while learning important financial literacy skills through the 2017–2018 Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship sponsored by Iowa Student Loan.

“The financial tips I learned through this process will help me throughout my college years and into my future career.” ―Sadie Brockett, a senior at Gladbrook-Reinbeck.

More than 4,000 Iowa high school seniors registered for the scholarship between October 2017 and February 2018. Of those, nearly 2,000 completed two online financial literacy tools and a related assessment to qualify for one of 30 college scholarships. More than 70 students tied for a top score on the assessment. The 30 recipients were those who received the highest scores on an independently judged essay on what “responsible borrowing” meant to them.

Christine Hensley, Iowa Student Loan board chair, said that the Student Loan Game Plansm and ROCI Reality Check tools, which participants are required to experience to qualify for the scholarship are designed to help students and families avoid the pitfalls of heavy student loan debt.

“Student loan debt must be carefully considered to be manageable later in life,” said Hensley. “The components to qualify for this scholarship help our state’s students understand the impact that student loan debt can have, and we’re pleased that so many high school seniors are exposed to these important lessons through the scholarship process.”

“The Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge allowed me to expand upon what my high school has already taught me about college spending. I now understand specifically my college expenses and career outlook.” ―Regan Sylvester, a senior at Sioux Central High School.

Each recipient’s high school will also receive a $500 award to improve or implement financial literacy and scholarship programs.

Details are not yet finalized for the 2018–2019 Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship. Interested families should watch for information about the program at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/SeniorScholarship.

Scholarship Recipients
The following students each earned a $2,000 scholarship. Iowa Student Loan will send scholarship funds directly to recipients’ colleges.

Student Name Student High School Student Name Student High School
Ote Albrecht Le Mars Timber Kent Clarke
Sydney Alt Lone Tree Ashley Koos Marquette Catholic
Heather Baier Southeast Polk Carrington Kuehl Indianola
Ryan Bonthius Regina Grant Meiners Carroll
Sadie Brockett Gladbrook-Reinbeck Jeffrey Morische Osage
Zachary Calvert Dowling Catholic Josh Pulse Pleasantville
Emma Carlson Des Moines Christian Megan Rex Oelwein
Matthew Current Clinton Elly Schuemann Linn-Mar
Jacee De Vries West Lyon Rebecca Sharpe Norwalk
Katelyn Finnegan St. Edmond Robyn Stillmunkes Bellevue
Morgan Fritz Lake Mills Regan Sylvester Sioux Central
Maci Gambell Pekin Shawn Thacker West (Iowa City)
Megan Grimm Prairie Luke Thompson Okoboji
Kayla Hospodarsky Alburnett Ethan Trepka West (Iowa City)
Alyssa Jaeger Springville Allison Zelle Linn-Mar

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

Checklist for College Prep

With your student’s final year of high school winding down, the list of things to do may seem limitless. One way to help manage the stress and emotions of the final months before your child goes off to college is to make an organized checklist.

Here are some items to include for each month between now and the start of freshman year of college:

March

□ If your student hasn’t made a final college decision, visit or revisit those that have offered acceptance and your student is still considering.

  • Use these trips to help your student envision what it would be like to attend each school and decide if it’s a good fit.
  • You may wish to help your student set up visits to specific departments or programs or to sit in classes.

□ Compare financial aid offers from the schools that remain on the list. Your student can contact a school’s financial aid office with any questions about the aid offered.

April

□ Work with your student to make a final college selection by the end of the month, as many colleges require a commitment by May 1.

  • Your student should notify the chosen school and make any required deposits.
  • Check for specific forms or actions that need to be completed, and add deadlines to your calendar.
  • Your student should also notify other schools that he or she will not attend and send a thank-you for any special assistance or offers.

□ Help your student understand the full cost of attending college.

  • Have a family conversation about what you will and won’t help with financially.
  • Encourage your student to continue looking for scholarships that can help defray the cost of attendance. You may wish to investigate how the college will apply any outside scholarships to aid already awarded, such as whether outside scholarships would replace institutional scholarships from the college or offset student loans.

□ Help your student set reminders for requesting final transcripts.

  • The high school counseling office may have required forms or processes for this.
  • Check on whether the student needs to make a separate request for transcripts for any college courses already completed, such as dual enrollment classes.

□ Check personal IDs and documents.

  • Have your student renew his or her driver’s license or passport if necessary before going to college.
  • Consider TSA Precheck and Global Entry if your student will be flying frequently or expects to travel internationally.

□ Help your student finish strong.

  • Advanced Placement exams occur at the beginning of May. If your student is enrolled in AP classes, be sure to help them understand if a particular score is needed to obtain credit for courses at the selected college.
  • Encourage your student to try to achieve the best grades possible for second semester of senior year. Disciplinary or academic issues could result in a college rescinding acceptance or scholarships.

May

□ Review the college’s timeline for completing actions and submitting forms and deposits.

  • Your student may need to sign up for orientation to enroll in classes, select a residence hall or roommates, opt in or out of college-sponsored health insurance and take other action.
  • Work with your student to set up access to a student or parent portal offered by the college.
  • Determine whether the college requires a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) agreement to provide parents with information about a student.

□ Make a four-year plan for coursework.

  • If your student has decided on a major, look for an existing flowchart or plan of required and elective classes available from the school. If none is available, look at the requirements for the major and start to plan out possibilities based on class offerings from previous years’ course catalogs.
  • Even if your student is undecided, you can look together for interesting entry-level classes, prerequisites for a particular academic college and graduation requirements to create a one- to two-year plan.

□ Plan needed transportation and accommodations.

  • Many college towns have limited hotel availability, especially on popular weekends for move-in, parent weekends, breaks and move-out.
  • Watch for deals on airfare, hotels and other accommodations and venues.

June

□ Work on life skills with your student.

  • Ensure your student can carry out the functions of everyday college life, such as waking up on time for early classes, doing laundry, arranging transportation, making appointments and preparing simple meals.
  • Discuss how your student will obtain money, such as from a job or from you, and access it for transactions. Many students use combinations of a credit or debit card, payment apps like Venmo or PayPay, cash withdrawals, and other forms of payment.

□ Encourage contact with future roommates.

  • Whether your student selected or was assigned a roommate, it can be helpful for people who will be sharing a small space for an extended time to have some preliminary conversations about preferences, habits, who is bringing what and any special needs.
  • You may want to encourage a meeting before move-in if the roommate lives nearby or can arrange to attend the same orientation session as your student.

□ Develop a network.

  • The college your child will attend may have parent associations, alumni groups or other organizations you can join.
  • Look for groups on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. These groups can be a forum for information and support now and throughout college.

July

□ Start exploring the college community with your student.

  • You may wish to find activities to participate in for future visits.
  • Your student may want to investigate student organizations, community service opportunities, events and activities as well.

□ Shop for books and supplies.

  • As soon as the class schedule is finalized, your student can start looking for assigned books. Encourage comparison shopping between the college bookstore, other bookstores and online sites. Also compare rentals to used and new purchases, and compare downloads and ebooks to printed materials.
  • Be aware that many college courses also require an electronic access code, which may not be included with used, rented or electronic versions.
  • Determine what dorm furnishings and supplies are needed and start shopping for those.

□ Talk to your student about common college student issues and how to get help.

  • You may wish to talk about drug and alcohol use, as well as other behaviors.
  • College students often face academic issues when entering college, even if they were excellent high school students. Discuss the advantages and availability of professor office hours, study groups, teaching assistants, help centers, tutoring and other resources.
  • Mental health can often be a concern for college students as well. Most campuses offer counseling and other services; encourage your student to be aware of how to reach out.
  • Your student may have specific physical, dietary, emotional or other needs. If you are unsure about the help available, contact student services or admissions for direction.

□ Consider dorm or renters insurance for lost, damaged or stolen valuable items like laptops, cell phones, bikes and other assets. Homeowners insurance may cover some losses for your student, but an inexpensive dorm policy from a specialized provider may be an option if you have a high deductible.

August

□ Make a communication plan.

  • Sometimes it’s helpful for the parents and the student to know when they will next speak to each other after the move.
  • You may want to set up a regular time and day for a video or phone chat.

□ Get ready for the big move. Be prepared for emotions to run high as your student faces a new situation and leaving behind familiar friends and family.

By: Iowa Student Loan

PLUS Loan Basics: What You Need to Know

The federal Direct PLUS Loan for parents is a common option for families who need more money to pay the full cost of college. It’s often included in colleges’ financial aid award packets to make up the difference between other types of aid and the cost of attendance but, like student loans, you are not required to accept a PLUS Loan.

Before taking out a PLUS Loan, carefully consider its features, benefits and drawbacks.

Features

  • Availability: The PLUS Loan is available to biological and adoptive parents, and in some cases stepparents, who do not have adverse credit history.
  • Limits: A parent can borrow up to the cost of attendance amount determined by the student’s school minus other financial assistance received by the student.
  • Interest Rate: The PLUS Loan has a fixed interest rate, currently at 7.00% for the 2017–2018 school year. The rate for the 2018–2019 year will be set on July 1.
  • Fees: An additional loan fee is calculated as a percentage of the loan amount (currently 4.264% for disbursements on or before Sept. 30, 2018) and is deducted from each disbursement.
  • Repayment: Borrowers may choose from federal repayment plans to repay the loan over 10 to 25 years. Repayment generally begins as soon as the loan is disbursed, but you may defer the payments while the student is enrolled at least half time plus an additional six months.

Benefits

  • Cash flow: Obtaining a PLUS Loan before a college bill is due allows some parents to pay for the entire term without financing fees or late penalties and then make payments on the loan as cash becomes available during the term.
  • Pre- and overpayment: Some parents choose to make extra payments without penalty to pay down PLUS Loans more quickly and to lessen the impact of interest.
  • Federal repayment options: You may choose from among federal repayment plans (not all are available for PLUS Loans). PLUS Loan servicers also offer deferment and forbearance options if you have difficulty making payments, but be aware that interest continues to accrue daily even when payments are not required and unpaid, accumulated interest will be capitalized, or added to the loan balance at the end of the deferment or forbearance period.
  • Death and disability: The loan can be discharged if the parent borrower dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled. In addition, the loan can be discharged if the student dies.
  • Cancellation: If already taken out, you can cancel all or part of the amount before the loan is disbursed. After disbursement you have a little time to cancel all or part by contacting the school financial aid office.

Drawbacks

  • Discharge: Federal PLUS Loans are rarely discharged for financial difficulties resulting from unemployment, age-related or other illnesses and injuries, or bankruptcy.
  • Nontransferable: You cannot transfer the PLUS Loan to your student to repay after your student finishes school. You and your student may be able to work together to refinance the loan in the student’s name through a private lender; doing so will result in the loss of federal repayment options.
  • Timing: Many parents face repayment of heavy loan debt burdens at a time of life when earning power generally decreases and limited income is needed for living or medical expenses. Default on a PLUS Loan can lead to the garnishment of Social Security benefits, tax refunds and wages.

Other Considerations
The following items could be considered a drawback or a benefit, depending on personal and other circumstances.

  • Qualification: Approval for a PLUS Loan does not take into consideration income, other outstanding debt, assets, income or years to retirement, so consider carefully how much you will realistically be able to repay.
  • Interest: The fixed interest rate will not increase during the life of the loan, but you won’t be able to take advantage of lower market rates in the future.

Before taking on a PLUS Loan, you should also compare it to other options, such as our College Family Loan.

By: Iowa Student Loan

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