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Student Loan Repayment: Grace Periods What to Know

January 25, 2018

If you got a loan for school, you should have had some counseling regarding your debt. Student loan debt is probably the least exciting part of graduating from college. If you are a recent graduate, you may hear a whole lot about a 6 month grace period. Let’s explore exactly what a 6 month grace period is, how to prepare for the end of the 6-month grace period, or how your approach to the grace period will affect you in the future.

 

Grace Periods

“No one told me about this” if that’s what you said when you read the intro paragraph; well you wouldn’t be the first, but you are in the right place! As a borrower, you are responsible for your financial decisions. It’s your responsibility to assure your loan gets paid on-time. If you don’t make payments on your loan in time it will affect your credit and could take a long time for that delinquency to be removed. A grace period is provided by the lender to a borrower. Grace periods are common for any type of loan not just student loan debt and can be common with credit cards too. The lender will allow you a specified period of time in which you are excused from making payments towards the debt. If you’re a recent college graduate, you’ll likely receive a 6 month grace period. The length of the grace period you’ll receive can change based on the types of student loans you have and who your loan provider is.

 

Unsubsidized Stafford Loans Vs Subsidized Stafford Loans

If you have a  Stafford Loan after Graduation you’ll be granted a 6 month grace period in which you are not required to make payments. If you have a Subsidized Stafford Loan that was originated before July 1, 2014, it will not accrue interest during the grace period. If you have an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan you will be responsible to pay the interest that is accrued while you utilize in-school deferment, grace period, or once the interest is capitalized upon repayment.

 

Direct PLUS & Parent PLUS Loans

Direct PLUS loans are taken out by graduate students without a cosigner. There is a 6 month grace period after the student is no longer enrolled for atleast half-time. Interest is accrued from the time of disbursement and is capitalized at repayment.

 

Parent PLUS loans are taken out by parents or guardians, of dependent undergraduate students. Repayment is expected when the loan is disbursed. Interest will begin to accrue from the time of disbursement. There is an optional 6 month grace period once the student is no longer enrolled for atleast half-time.

 

Federal Perkins Loans

These loans are provided to students that have “exceptional financial need.” After you graduate, withdrawal, or drop under half-time status you have a nine-month grace period. Borrowers with Perkins loans shouldn’t be charged during the initial grace period.

 

Private Loans

Private loans vary, so if a grace period is permitted it is ultimately up to the lender who provided you with the loan. Typically you should be able to find any information regarding a grace period in your loan agreement. When using a private lender it’s likely that interest will be accrued during the grace period and then ultimately capitalized upon repayment.

 

What is Capitalized Interest?

Capitalized Interest can seem pretty complex, but it’s fairly simple and REALLY important that you understand what it is. When your loan is disbursed or the funds are sent to your institution, the interest on that loan starts to accrue. Yes, even if you are still in school interest is being accrued on those funds. Upon your repayment that interest will get added onto the principal balance of your loan. Now, capitalized interest will depend on the type of loan that you have. As we discussed above some loans will accrue interest and some will not so be sure to know the types of loans that you have.

 

So how exactly does capitalized interest work? Let’s say that you went to school for 4 years, borrowed $10,000 a year with a 7% interest rate. So you borrowed a total of $40,000 from your lender.  If you didn’t make payments during school and you had a 6-month grace period (no payments) you would have acquired $1,412 in interest only, after the grace period! If you had a 10-year loan term, the total amount that you’ll have paid on the loan with interest capitalization is $57,700.  That equates to an additional penny for every dollar you borrowed. Try calculating your capitalized interest here

 

Financial Planning

It should go without saying, but if you can make payments while you’re in school or payments while you’re in your grace period, do it! If you are the last minute type of person and didn’t know about capitalized interests until just now, it’ll be okay. Step one- don’t panic! Here are some ways that you can pay down your debt.

 

Pay over the minimum payment. Regardless, if you’re on an Income-Based Repayment plan or just making the minimum payment, interest is still being accrued! In order to cut down on the interest being accrued and concentrate more of those payments onto the principle of your loan, you need to pay more. It’s easier said than done, but any additional money that you can put towards the debt will help you to pay less overall. Try making a budget that will allow you to make bi-monthly payments towards the debt. Bi-monthly payments will allow you to pay down the interest sooner so your payments are concentrated on the principle of the loan.

 

Look to an Employer

A benefit that companies recently have found beneficial is helping employees with student loan debt. Some companies offer resources for graduates like paying contributions toward the debt and offering other financial resources. If you are in the market for new employment, try looking into this as a company benefit. If your employee can contribute to your debt pay down you’ll have the ability to pay it down sooner!

 

SideGigs

Lucky for you, the gig economy has become rather popular! Try picking up an extra side job, where the profits can all go straight towards your debt. You don’t need a special talent to have a side job. Though a talent helps there are always jobs like babysitting, dog walking, or even housesitting. If you aren’t sure where to start there are a ton of websites that you can use to create a profile and get connected with people locally.

 

Refinance Student Loans

If you have a high interest rate and a steady income refinancing student loans could be a good option. Refinancing allows you to combine multiple loans into one loan, allows you to select the repayment terms, and can help to cut down on the interest rate. In order to qualify for a student loan refinance you’ll need a steady income and usually a FICO score of 650 or higher. If you can’t qualify on your own, be sure to ask about adding on a cosigner.

 

Responsible Borrowing

If you’re a recent graduate or in-school currently, don’t try to hide from your debt. Avoiding making payments on your loan will only hurt you and your credit history. Do your research and talk with your lender. The more you can educate yourself as a borrower the better. Just remember, you’re building a strong foundation and you’ll be establishing yourself as a financially responsible borrower.  In a few years, you’ll be thanking yourself for the responsible financial choices that you’ve made!

 

Student Loan Refinancing or Consolidation?

 

 

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2019-08-03
How Does Student Loan Interest Work?

When you take out a student loan, you will not just be paying back the amount you borrowed – the lender will also charge you interest. The easiest way to think of interest is that it’s the cost paid by you to borrow money. Whether you take out a private student loan or a federal student loan, you will be charged interest on your loan until it is repaid in full. So, when you have finished paying off your loan, you will have paid back the original sum you borrowed (your original principal), plus you will have paid a percentage of the amount you owed (interest). Properly understanding the way that student loan interest affects your loan is imperative for you to be able to manage your debt effectively.  

The Promissory Note

When a student loan is issued, the borrower agrees to the terms of the loan by signing a document called a promissory note. These terms include:
  • Disbursement date: The date the funds are issued to you and interest begins to accrue.
  • Amount borrowed: The total dollar amount borrowed on the loan.
  • Interest rate: How much the loan will cost you.
  • How interest accrues: Interest may be charged on a daily or monthly basis.
  • First payment date: The date when you are expected to make your first loan payment.
  • Payment schedule: When you are required to make payment and how many payments you have to make.
 

How Different Types of Student Loans are Affected by Interest Rates

  • Government-Subsidized loan: If you are the recipient of a government-subsidized direct loan, the government will pay your interest while you are in school. This means that your loan balance will not increase. After graduation, the interest becomes your responsibility.
  • Parent PLUS Loan: There are no government-subsidized loans for parents, and regular repayments are scheduled to begin 60 days after the loan is disbursed.
  • Unsubsidized Loan: The majority of students will have unsubsidized loans where interest is charged from day one. If you have this type of loan, sometimes a lender will not require you to make payments while you are still in school. However, the interest will accrue, and when you graduate you’ll find yourself with a loan balance higher than the one you started with. This is known as capitalization. 
Here’s an example: In your freshman year, you borrow $7,000 at 3.85%. By the time you graduate in four years, this will have grown to $8,078 – an increase of $1,078. Here’s the math: 7,000 × 0.0385 × 4 = $1,078 (
Click here for ELFI’s handy accrued interest calculator.)  

How is Student Loan Interest Calculated?

When you begin to make loan payments, the amount you pay is made up of the amount you borrowed (the principal) and interest payments. When you make a payment, interest is paid first. The remainder of your payment is applied to your principal balance and reduces it.    Let’s suppose you borrow $10,000 with a 7% annual interest rate and a 10-year term. Using ELFI’s helpful loan payment calculator, we can estimate your monthly payment at $116 and the interest you will pay over the life of the loan at $3,933. Here’s how to determine how much of your monthly payment of $116 is made up of interest.   1. Calculate your daily interest rate (also known as your interest rate factor). Divide your interest rate by 365 (the number of days in the year).  

.07/365 = 0.00019, or 0.019%

    2. Calculate the amount of interest your loan accrues each day. Multiply your outstanding loan balance by your daily interest rate.  

$10,000 x 0.00019 = $1.90

  3. Calculate your monthly interest payment. Multiply the dollar amount of your daily interest by the number of days since your last payment.  

$1.90 x 30 = $57

 

How is Student Loan Interest Applied?

As you continue to make payments on your student loan, your principal and the amount of accrued interest will decrease. Lower interest charges means that a larger portion of your payments will be applied to your principal. Paying down the principal on a loan is known as amortization.  

How Accrued Interest Impacts Your Student Loan Payments

The smart money approach is avoiding capitalized interest building up on your loan while you are in school. This is because choosing not to pay interest while in school means you will owe a lot more when you come out. The more you borrow, the longer you are in school, and the higher your interest rates are, the more profound the impact of capitalization will be.  

How to Find the Best Student Loan

When looking for the best student loan, you naturally want the lowest interest rate available. With a lower interest rate, the same monthly payment pays down more of your loan principal and you will be out of debt more quickly. Talk to ELFI about our private student loan offerings by giving us a call today!  

Learn More About ELFI Student Loans

  Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.   NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2019-07-31
What is FAFSA? And Why You Should Care

What does FAFSA stand for? FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You must submit the FAFSA to apply for federal and state financial aid to see you through college, and it must be submitted every year that you want financial assistance. Even if you don’t need federal financial aid, college admissions officers recommend that you complete the FAFSA process. Also, some private scholarships require the submission of the FAFSA. In both instances, this is because the application indicates your interest in the school and can boost your chances of getting in. Each school that you have listed on the FAFSA will receive your financial information after you’ve completed the form.  

How do I Get a FAFSA?

The FAFSA paperwork is available in both a printed and online format. Most families find it more convenient to complete the FAFSA online these days - to do so, go to
www.fafsa.ed.gov. Here you will find pre-application worksheets and step-by-step instructions for filling out the FAFSA. You can sign your completed form electronically with a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID that can be obtained by going to this link. You can even opt to file your FAFSA from your mobile device. There are the following advantages to completing the FAFSA process online:
  • You’ll likely receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) quicker than if you had used the paper or PDF forms.
  • Your FAFSA will be less prone to mistakes because the online process comes with built-in error checks.
  • The expenses of the federal government will be lowered as its processing costs are reduced.
  • With the online FAFSA, you can list up to ten colleges; the paper version only has space for four. You should list all of the schools you’re interested in whether or not you’ve applied or been accepted yet. 
 

School Codes

Each school has a six-character Federal School Code (also known as a Title IV Institution Code) that you need to enter into your FAFSA. Be aware that some institutions have several codes to designate different campuses or programs. You can obtain a code by using this search form or calling the school's financial aid office.   

Paper FAFSAs

Paper versions are no longer distributed in bulk to high schools, libraries, and colleges, except in areas where students may not have access to the Internet. However, if you want a paper version, you can order up to three copies by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3242) or 1-391-337-5665. (Those with hearing impairments should call 1-800-730-8913.)  

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a number that colleges use to calculate the amount of financial aid you’re eligible to receive. The EFC takes into account various factors such as your family’s income, assets, size, and any other family members who are attending college at the same time as yourself. Usually, a lower EFC increases your eligibility for more financial aid. Use a handy EFC Calculator, such as the one from FinAid to calculate your EFC and receive an estimate of your eligibility for financial assistance. You can also run “what-if” tests to find out how much assistance you’ll receive under various scenarios.  

When Should I Submit my FAFSA?

The FAFSA is available on October 1 of the year before you plan to attend school. Applications are considered on a rolling basis up until a summer deadline (which varies). Earlier dates may apply to state and school-specific aid programs. Don’t wait until the deadline; the earlier you submit your application, the more aid programs you’ll be in line for.  

So What Does This All Mean?

If you’re planning on enrolling in higher education, you’re probably giving some thought to financial aid. Completing the FAFSA will help you earn the federal financial assistance you need and deserve. For a very detailed guide to filling out your FAFSA, click here. And, don’t forget that help may be available from an advisor at your school.    After college, if you want help and advice on managing your student loan debt, talk to ELFI. Give us a call at 1.844.601.ELFI to speak with a dedicated Personal Loan Advisor.     Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.   NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2019-07-18
How Does Student Loan Refinancing Work?

When you agree to take out a student loan, you also sign on to a specific set of terms and conditions that cover things such as your payment schedule and the interest you’ll pay on your loan. These terms represent the obligations of the borrower and cosigner until the loan is completely paid off. Interest rates for federal student loans are determined by the government, whereas private lenders will set their terms according to your credit score (or that of a cosigner).

Can I Change my Loan Terms?

Before graduating, you probably didn’t give much thought to student loan repayment terms. That being said, student loan terms that fit your needs and goals before starting school aren’t always ideal for you following graduation. For this reason, it is possible to change your loan terms after you graduate, and if you’re approved for a new loan, the new loan servicer pays the old loan servicer for the cost of the loan. The student loan debt is then transferred to the new loan servicer. With the new loan typically comes new and better student loan terms.  

Why Should I Refinance my Student Loan?

Simply put, student loan refinancing works when you can take out a new loan in order to pay off the first loan with better terms. Here are four reasons why you might want to refinance your student loan:

Your Credit Score Has Improved Since College

Student loans provided by the federal government don’t take credit scores into account - every borrower is given the same interest rate regardless of credit history. If you have taken out a private loan, your interest rate could have been impacted by your or your cosigner’s credit score. After a few years in the workforce, your credit score usually improves. An ideal time to refinance your student loans is when your credit score exceeds 650. This should enable you to refinance your loan at a lower interest rate. Most student loan refinance companies will require a minimum credit score for refinancing approval, so be sure to seek that information out before applying.

A Longer Credit History Could Improve Your Interest Rate

Interest rates for private student loans are usually affected by your or your cosigner’s demonstrated credit history, and most student loan refinance companies will provide a minimum credit score to apply for refinancing. A refinancing company will also usually provide favorable terms to a borrower who has illustrated a financially responsible credit history – for example, by paying bills on time. An individual who has multiple defaults on their credit history is likely to receive less favorable terms or be turned down for refinancing.

Overall Interest Rates May Be Lower

Interest rates for student loans are tied to certain economic indicators at the time you applied for the loan. So, you may have a student loan with an above-average interest rate because you went to college when interest rates were high. When interest rates decrease because of changing economic conditions, you will almost certainly be able to refinance and get a better deal on your new loan.

Consolidation

Refinancing gives you the option of consolidating several loans with different interest rates into a single loan with a more favorable interest rate. One loan with one interest rate is much easier to manage.  

Fixed and Variable Interest Rates

When you apply to refinance your student loan, you can choose between a fixed or a variable interest rate. A fixed rate doesn’t change unless you are refinancing again. A variable rate will fluctuate over time based on certain economic indicators. Variable rates coincide with low-interest rates across the economy, and they can sometimes fall to below 3%. If you find yourself with a high income and interest rates are declining, then it may be possible to get a great refinancing deal. This works by choosing a variable interest rate and paying off your loan entirely before interest rates start rising again, or by taking advantage of a low fixed interest rate and sticking with it.  

Avoiding the Risks of Refinancing Student Loans

Refinancing your student loan can be a great choice, but there are some risks you want to watch out for:
  • High-interest rates. If interest rates are high, you might end up paying more over time than if you had stayed with your original loan.
  • Too many fees. Make sure that refinancing fees don’t outweigh the savings from your lower interest rate. Look for student loan refinancing that comes with no fees.
  • Unrealistic repayment schedules. Federal student loans provide you with access to repayment plans based on a low yearly income. Make sure that you can meet the monthly payments on your refinanced loan.
 

When Should I Refinance my Student Loan?

The primary reason to refinance your student loan is to shift into a much more favorable loan. That loan could have a lower interest rate and save you money. Additionally, if you qualify, you’ll have the flexibility to adjust the repayment terms. This means that you could pay the loan off with a shorter term or extend the term so it costs you less every month or is easier to manage.

Use ELFI to Refinance Your Student Loans

You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it can be to repay your loan faster and more effectively. Doing so can help you avoid the stress of too much student loan debt and enjoy a more prosperous financial life. It can be hard to tell when the best time to refinance your student loan is, so click here for a handy student loan refinancing calculator to determine how much you might save. For a no-obligation consultation, call ELFI at 1.844.601.ELFI.  

Learn More About Student Loan Refinancing

  Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.   NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.