There is a multitude of information available regarding repayment and how to best manage your loan debt:
Make a complete list of all the loans you have. Not doing it won't make them go away. Start with the National Student Loan Data Service (NSLDS) to find all your federal loans, then check with your financial aid office or review your credit report AnnualCreditReport.com to track down your private loans. Update your contact information with all of your lenders.
Accept the fact that no one cares about your student loans as much as you do. No one will hand you a personalized repayment plan or a neat package of organized information about your loans. Your loans will automatically default to the Standard (10-year) Repayment Plan Option, unless you opt for another one. Read everything you get in the mail and ask questions until it makes sense. Refer to Repaying Student Loans Guide for further information on getting organized and repaying your student loans.
Decide whether it makes sense to consolidate your federal student loans. Direct Consolidation Loans are available from the Department of Education only, and it might be easier to have all your loans in one place. Learn about the pros and cons of consolidation at the Student Loan Borrower Assistance.org website.
Understand which repayment plan is best for you and ask for it. You're going to have to take action to get into the right repayment plan. The faster you repay the less interest you'll pay. But if your income is low, compared to your debt load, consider the benefits of Income-Based Repayment (IBR). IBR is a great option while you're looking for work. Visit IBR Info for more information.
If you end up working for the government or a nonprofit, take action to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). You can earn loan forgiveness by making the right kind of payments on the right kind of loans while working in the right kind of job. Click here for more information on PSLF. But there is nothing automatic about it. Get the information at askheatherjarvis.com or The Department of Education Servicer, Fedloan Servicing. The only servicer exclusively handling all PSLF.
We are providing you free access to USA Funds Life Skills, a free online program that offers Learning Paths that give advice on managing your time and money wisely after graduation. If you borrowed federal funds during your matriculation at the law school, you are required to complete these modules. Please click here for more information and be sure to follow the instructions completely, as failure to do so could prevent you from log on correctly.
Other resource possibilities include:
The Financial Aid Office, here at the Law School, is available to answer any questions and assist you on your path to repayment. Our goal is to help guide you in the right direction to get started. Do your homework, come to us prepared, and you will be ready to navigate the world of loan repayment. You may also refer to information throughout the financial aid pages in this website for further information and resources.
*Some of the information provided in this checklist was compiled by Heather Jarvis, Student Loan Expert. Her website askheatherjarvis.com provides free, online resources and information about student loans and debt-relief programs, including downloadable checklists, podcasts, and an interactive forum. For more information, visit askheatherjarvis.com.
Laura Dickerson of Sallie Mae discusses strategies for repaying your student loans.