Student Loans After Graduation
When to begin repaying your loan
Congratulations! You've finally graduated from college, and you're ready to take on the world. But what about those student loans you’ve been ignoring?
The good news is that your lender or loan holder is responsible for informing you about your loans after graduation. Watch for those letters or emails, and make sure they have your correct contact information.
Before you begin repaying, your loan holder must provide:
- A student loan repayment schedule.
- Detailed information about rates and fees.
- The balance you owe on your loan.
- Information about your repayment plan.
It's a good idea to pull out your loan papers and revisit the fine print. Just look for the Master Promissory Note (for your federal loans) or your promissory note (for your private loans), which contains a list of your repayment responsibilities.
What is a grace period?
After you've graduated or dropped below half-time attendance, you don’t have to begin repaying your loan right away. Grace periods are typically granted because it takes most students a few months to move, find a job and begin earning money.
If you prefer, you can begin repaying your student loans before the grace period ends. That reduces the overall interest you will pay over the life of the loan (if the loan is unsubsidized or a private loan). Just make sure to notify your lender.
Your MPN or promissory note contains all the details of your grace period:
- For Federal Direct Stafford Loans, that grace period is six months.
- For Federal Perkins Loans, it's nine months.
- Federal Direct PLUS Loans do not have grace periods, but parents can leverage a post-disbursement forbearance for up to 48 months, provided their child is attending school at least half-time.
- For the Citizens Bank TruFit Student Loan™, the grace period is six months.
Grace periods are different from deferments and forbearances. Grace periods typically follow a period of deferment which may include an in-school period, residency or internship. Forbearance is a temporary forgiveness due to economic hardship such as unemployment or temporary physical disability. Both deferments and forbearances are a temporary forgiveness of repayment because of certain circumstances.
Military duty and further education may qualify you for additional grace periods. First check with your lender and receive formal approval before you stop repaying your loan.
- Active military duty. If you've been called to active military duty, you may qualify for grace periods as long as three years.
- Going back to school. You may also qualify for an additional grace period if you return to school.
Additional student loan and college planning resources
- How to Handle Financial Changes
- What is Entrance/Exit Counseling?
- Student Loan Deferment and Deferred Interest
- Benefits of Prepayment