As you approach graduation, the questions of what job to take and how to handle the investment you’ve made in your law school education become more and more pressing. Managing your student loan debt is a key component of the decisions you need to make about your future.
Understanding your options in repayment is vital to managing your student loan debt. On these pages, we will outline the key features and repayment options available for federal student loan borrowers, including information about:
- Your grace period – when do you need to start repaying your loans
- Where to find your loan information: who to pay, amounts borrowed, contact information, etc.
- The different Repayment Plans available to borrowers
- Deferment and Forbearance for those having trouble making payments
- Federal Loan Consolidation
- Loan Forgiveness, Cancellation and Repayment Assistance
Each of your federal student loans have a grace period associated with them. The grace period is a period during which you are not required to make any payments on your loans. The grace period starts the day after you stop being a half-time student. The length of the grace period varies depending on the type of loan borrowed:
Direct/Stafford loans: 6 months
Perkins loans: 9 months
Graduate PLUS loans: technically do not have a grace period. However, loans borrowed after July 1st, 2008 are eligible for a 6 month forbearance from the time that you are no longer enrolled. Otherwise, students enter repayment within 45 days of ceasing enrollment.
You only get one grace period per loan. This means that if you have loans from a previous degree, your grace period, on those loans, may have already been used. In this case, you would start repayment 45 days after graduating or stopping enrollment.
Note about Interest:
During the grace period, interest does not accrue on Perkins Loans and is paid for by the government on subsidized Direct/Stafford loans. Interest on unsubsidized Direct/Stafford loans and Graduate PLUS loans accrues during the grace period.
At the end of the grace period, any interest that has accumulated on your loan during your in-school and grace period is capitalized; meaning it is added onto the principal amount of the loan and interest now accrues on this total amount. If you are able to make interest payments while in school or shortly afterward, you can reduce the amount of interest you will pay during the life of your loan.
Determining your Lender or Servicer
The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) provides comprehensive information about your federal loan history, including lender and servicer contact information, loan totals and loan status.You can access NSLDS online at www.nslds.ed.gov.
Alternatively, you can log into www.StudentLoans.gov to view this information, using the "Repayment Estimator," and clicking on "View Loans." For both websites, you'll need your FSA ID and password.
Since loans can be sold or reassigned to a different loan servicer and students can end their studies having multiple lenders, NSLDS/StudentLoans.gov are the best places to get up-to-date information on who to contact regarding each loan.
Lender v. Loan Servicer
You may hear these terms often when dealing with your loans. While they are sometimes used interchangeably, they do have different meanings.
A lender is the entity or organization who has lent the money for the loan. A loan servicer is an entity or organization assigned to service the loan. These services include: collecting payments, setting up repayment plans, granting deferments and forbearance requests, and providing default prevention. Generally, you want to contact the servicer with most of your questions or requests. In some cases, the lender and servicer may be the same.
Continue to Loan Repayment Plans >>