Student Loan Repayment Options
If you are entering graduate school and you have student loans from your undergraduate days you will likely have the option of deferring your student loans while enrolled in graduate school. Interest might continue to accrue while your loans or deferred and you will need to resume payments once you are no longer a student. You should check with your lender to find out what the requirements are to qualify for deferment, such as minimum number of classes per semester. You may also be able to request deferment if you lose your job or experience an economic hardship. Deferments can generally be requested for up to one year at a time and at the end of the deferment period you would need to resume payments or request another deferment.
Consolidation is an option that might make your student loan payments more manageable. Consolidation lets you combine different loans into one loan and it lengthens the amount of time you have to pay off your loan, reducing your monthly payment amount in the process. You should check with your lender to find out if your student loans are eligible for consolidation and what your options are.
You might be able to change your payment amount to match your current ability to pay. For example, you might have the option of graduated payments. This payment option means that you will pay a lower amount for a set period of time and then your payments will increase. The goal of this payment option is to allow you to pay a smaller amount while you are initially out of school, with payments increasing the longer you are out of school and (hopefully) making more money.
Another potential option is an income based payment schedule. This is usually only available with federal loans so you should talk with your lender. This option bases your payment amount on how much money you make over the federal poverty level. As your income increases, your payments will increase. This option can help you keep your student loans to a payment schedule that is reasonable for your income.
Ask your lender for your options and find one that works for you and do everything you can to avoid defaulting on your student loans since default can carry serious consequences.
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