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Whether you're interested in attending school, currently working on obtaining a degree, or graduating and starting repayment on your student loans, you have options available regarding student loan debt.
You should have a plan in place for how much you can afford to borrow for school. Refer to the federal repayment estimator tool to determine payment estimates based on different federal loan repayment plans. It is also important for your personal financial health to keep your loans in good standing. If you're having trouble making loan payments, consider contacting your loan holder to talk about your options.
Federal loans at Missouri S&T are offered through the Direct Loan Program. All required Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Notes for Direct, Parent PLUS and Graduate PLUS Loans have to be completed through Direct Loans. Funds will not be sent to S&T unless all required paperwork is signed.
Level repayment is the most common payment schedule option. Borrowers repay the loan(s) in equal installments over their repayment period. The minimum monthly payment is determined by the amount of the loan and the length of the repayment period. Generally, this option is the most economical method of repayment.
Borrowers making graduated payments begin repaying their loans at a lower payment amount. The amount increases every two years until the balance of the loan is repaid over the length of the repayment period. The amount of interest paid over the life of the loan is higher with this option than with Level repayment.
With an income-sensitive repayment schedule, the monthly payment amount is adjusted annually to reflect changes in the borrower's income, which is based on total monthly income and student loan debt. This option may be used for a maximum of five years, and then the account will be converted to Level or Graduated repayment.
Borrowers who have Federal Family Education Loan Program loans totaling more than $30,000 are eligible for extended repayment. Extended repayment can be a Level or Graduated schedule that is set up for a repayment term of up to 25 years instead of the normal 10 years. This can result in a much lower payment amount but will also increase the total amount of interest paid over the life of the loan.
Payments under the income-based repayment plan are based on the borrower's income and the total amount of debt. Monthly payments are adjusted each year as the borrower's income changes. Income-based repayment is set up for a repayment term of up to 25 years. At the end of 25 years, any remaining balance on the loan will be discharged. Income-based repayment caps monthly payments at 15% of your monthly discretionary income.
Deferments allow you to temporarily postpone the payment of your loan. Deferments are not automatic; you must apply and be approved by your lender. The most common reasons for deferment include the following:
During periods of deferment on subsidized Stafford Loans, the principal payments are postponed and interest is paid by the federal government. However, you are responsible for interest that accrues on any unsubsidized Stafford Loan. Other deferment options may be available, so contact your loan holder for details and to obtain forms.
If you do not qualify for a deferment, you may be eligible to request forbearance from your lender. Forbearance is the temporary postponement or reduction in your monthly payment. Often the amount of time it takes to repay your loan is extended. Interest continues to accrue during the period, which increases the loan balance. There are several different types of forbearance available depending on your situation. Forbearance must be approved by your lender.
Forbearance can be applied to both past delinquency and future payments, and is applied in up to twelve-month increments. Multiple periods can be used and maximums are specific to your lender. Forbearance can be applied verbally with your lender, or submitted in writing depending on the delinquency of your loan.
Loan consolidation involves applying for a new loan to pay off several existing loans. Students who have borrowed federal loans (Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, Direct Parent PLUS, Direct Graduate PLUS, or Federal Perkins) can consolidate these loans through a Federal Consolidation Loan.
A Federal Consolidation Loan has a fixed interest rate (based on a weighted average of the underlying loan interest rates) and is eligible to be placed on any of the repayment plans that a borrower qualifies for.
Consolidation is ideal for students who have borrowed through multiple lenders as it provides a single monthly payment to one lender. Currently, the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan is offering consolidation loans to most borrowers. Contact the Information Center to find out if Consolidation is the right choice for you.
Private student loans cannot be consolidated with federal loans. Some private loan companies will allow you to consolidate multiple loans with them, but eligibility and availability are at the discretion of the lender. Contact your lender to see what options are available.