There are plenty of mistakes you’ll want to avoid when it comes to student loans. It’s far better to prevent trouble than to dig your way out, after all. Here’s how to be responsible with your student loans from the get go.
Do Your Research
Instead of applying to any student loan you’re eligible for, you must find the student loan that fits you best. An ill-fitting student loan can end up costing you thousands in the long run. Better to slow down and find the right fit.
College Raptor can help you here! With our free Student Loan Finder, you can compare lenders and interest rates side by side.
The research aspect extends beyond just the loan type, lender, interest rates, etc. You’ll also need to select a repayment option that works best for your goals. Should you start repaying the loan while still in school, or take advantage of your grace period? Would the standard work best for you, or is the graduated option best?
Know too that there are major differences between federal and private student loans. (Always exhaust your federal aid options before moving onto private loans, by the way. Here’s why.)
Keep Copies of All Documents
You should create a collection of all your loan documents, which can include term agreements, instructions, repayment receipts, and any correspondence between you and your lender. Keep it well organized and you’ll never have to scramble around looking for important details.
Stay On Top of Your Payments
This is perhaps one of the most important responsibilities as a borrower. If you miss a payment, even by a day, it can hurt you big time. Your credit score can take a hit, you could slip towards student loan delinquency and eventually default, and everything gets more difficult. Like digging a hole further and further down.
Instead, make everything easier (and less stressful) by creating a clear payment calendar, or even set up your student loans on auto-pay so you’re never late.
Keep in Contact with Your Lender
More communication is always better than less communication. When it comes to your lender, make sure you’re regularly in contact. Even if you’re just touching base with how things are progressing, or if you have a question, or if your financial situation changes. This can give you peace of mind or helpful information (or both!).
Don’t Let Your Co-Signer Down
You likely had to have a parent or trusted relative co-sign your student loan. If you fail to repay the loan on time, the co-signer suffers too. It suddenly becomes their debt and responsibility, and their credit score can spiral. Reward their trust in you by doing all you can to ensure your loan is paid off on time.
If you’re ever struggling to repay the loan, know that you have options to make it easier. You can refinance or consolidate your loans or change your repayment plan, for example.
All in all, taking on a student loan is a big responsibility that you should be prepared for. Good luck!