November and December are usually the months when most people´s grace periods on their student loans are coming to an end. As you begin to organize your finances once more, it is important to determine the best way to pay back your loans and how to do it making on-time monthly payments. Most loan providers offer the following options to make payments: automatic debit, pay online, pay by phone, and pay by check or money order.
It is important to remember that the loan is under your name and is now part of your financial history. This mean that your loan payments should be taken into consideration when creating a budget for your new monthly expenses, and should be just as important as your rent and grocery expenses. Most lenders have some sort of late fee policy in place and late payments will only reflect negatively on your credit score and increase the amount of your debt with the loan provider. Read the rest of this entry »
Have you already checked out our International Student Loan Comparison Tool, but realized that you weren’t exactly sure how to compare the results given? Deciding which loan is the right one for you can feel a little overwhelming, but here is a cheat sheet on how to compare your different loan options and choose the best one!
Now, before jumping into the loan jargon here are some basic questions you should ask yourself in order to compare loans efficiently:
⦁ Do I plan to work and study at the same time?
⦁ Do I want to get a Master’s?
⦁ Do I want to make loan payments while I am studying or begin repayment once I have graduated?
You may not have a clear answer for these question at the moment, but if you do these questions will you give you some extra insight on which loan conditions are right for you.
- Interest Rates: Variable or Fixed?
Interest rates are the part of taking out a loan that everyone hates, so if you can get the best deal you’ll feel very satisfied. When you apply for a loan, you are asked if you want a variable or fixed interest rate and the distinction is very important.
- Variable: A variable rate means exactly that, the interest rate on your loan varies and changes over time. This is considered somewhat of a gamble because if the economy changes, your interest rate can either decrease or increase.⦁
- Fixed: Most people automatically go with a fixed interest rate because its stable and, therefore, stays the same as long as your loan exists. A fixed rate makes it easier for you to calculate your monthly payments, which in turn allows you to organize your finances. In essence, it gives you more control from day 1.
When choosing the details of your repayment, is when the previous questions could come in handy. It is important to know if you have the option to defer (postpone) payments until after you have finished your studies or if you have to begin repayment as soon as you sign your name. Here are 3 of the most common repayment schedules and what they mean:
Special Conditions and Additional Fees
- Standard Repayment: Standard repayment usually gives you a 10-year limit to pay off your loan. During those 10 years you have a fixed monthly amount, and the lender usually requires a minimum monthly payment.
- Extended Repayment: Extended repayment is similar to standard repayment, in that you have fixed monthly payments. However, you have the option to pay back your loan between 12-30 years. This of course lowers your monthly payments, but it is important to remember that the lender will be charging you interest during this time. Although you may have lower monthly payments, more payments means more interest which means more money paid over time.
- Graduated Repayment: With a graduated repayment schedule, the idea is that you start off paying a specific monthly payment and that this amount is readjusted (increases) every 2 years. The repayment timeline given is usually 12-30 years.
You may have heard the term deferment thrown around when talking about loans and you may know that it means postponing your loan payments. When taking out a private student loan you must be careful with the fine print. Although deferment exists, with private student loans it might be a little bit trickier. Many times, in the fine print is where you will find a multitude of hidden fees that can come back to haunt you later. Here are a few fees to keep an eye out for:
- Paying off your loan early
- Penalties for late payments
For more information on what to take into consideration when choosing a loan check out our post ¨What International Student Loan is Right for Me?¨.
Now that you have chosen what university will be your home for the next 4 years, you can start the student loan application process. It may seem intimidating, but here’s a guide to help you get an idea of what you have to do and how to do it.
- Financial Aid & Cost of Attendance
This is the first step once you have decided what university you will be attending. If you have received any scholarships or financial aid, make sure to get in contact with the financial aid office to get an updated version of your personal cost of attendance. When applying for a student loan, the maximum amount you are eligible for is equal to your cost of attendance. This will help you calculate the amount you are going to be asking for in loans. In addition, make sure that if you are going to need a co-signer you have that person informed about when you will be submitting the application, being that they will be filling out the application form as well.
- Choosing a Loan
Finding a loan can seem like the hardest part, but that’s where we come in. With our International Student Loan Comparison Tool, you can save time trying to find the right loan. There are some important factors to consider when choosing a loan such as the repayment period or interest rate. It may sound complicated, but we have some tips to help you navigate this process.
- Filling out the Application
Nowadays, loan applications can be submitted via the internet making the process a lot easier. You will need to complete the online application with your co-signer or they may be required to submit a separate online application. If this is the case, be sure to provide them with a correct reference number or application number to avoid any mistakes with the paperwork. In order to make the application process as easy as possible, collect all the following documents and information beforehand:
- School information, including school name, major, grade, and school term for which you need the loan
- Social Security number (as an international student, this may not be applicable)
- Telephone numbers
- Current addresses (home and school)
- Personal reference information and phone number
- Gross income information
- Residence information, including whether you own or rent, and the monthly housing payment
- Requested loan amount
- Contact from Lender
During the application process, you will receive paperwork that may be completely foreign to you. The most important piece of paper is the Promissory Note, which is just a special name for the contract. The Promissory Note is the contract you sign stating to the lender that you will pay back the loan in full and under what specific conditions, in other words the fine print. Want to be up to speed on loan jargon? Check out this great video explaining the loan terms you’ll be coming across!
After all the research, paperwork, and possible headaches this is the moment you have been waiting for. Disbursement is what lenders call the process of giving you the loan money. Student loans are typically sent directly to your school which then uses the money to pay for what is charged to your student account for that semester. Although the process should be automatic, you should keep on top of the dates because your school will have a final payment date and if your loan is not received by that date, it could cause you problems.
Just like with the college application process, dates are important! Check out our financial aid timeline for some helpful tips.
If this is the first time you are applying for a loan, the process may be intimidating. However, beginning the process with some background knowledge will not only help you feel more comfortable, but potentially speed up the process. Whether you are applying for a study abroad loan or international student loan, here are 3 important tips to make applying for a loan a piece of cake.
- Calculate Your School’s Cost of Attendance – If you are taking out a private student loan, you will be asked to provide information about the school you will be attending. Make sure you have all the contact information for your chosen university such as: the name, address, school term, major, etc. For a private student loan, the lender will cross check to make sure that your requested amount does not exceed your school’s cost of attendance (COA). Although your school’s COA is the maximum amount you will be eligible for, remember that you will be paying it all back so if you can take out less, it’s better to take out only what you need.
- Have Your Co-Signer Ready – A co-signer is essential for all international students applying for an international student loan. However, a co-signer can be useful for US citizens applying for a study abroad loan as well. When you decide to study abroad you may not have enough of a credit history established, which shows lenders that they can’t trust you to pay them back. This is why a co-signer is so important. This person, in essence, fills out the application with you and gives the lender a guarantee that if you are unable to make your loan payments he/she will take the responsibility. Choosing a co-signer with good credit can also work in your favor, allowing you to receive better interest rates from the lender.
- Collect All of Your Financial Documents – When applying for a loan you are asking for money and before a lender decides to approve your application they need to have a good idea of your financial standings. As mentioned above, you will probably need a co-signer so it is important to have all of you financial documents and that of your co-signer available. If you or your co-signer have filed taxes, having that information on hand will make the application process easier. The breakdown of financial information that you normally will be asked to provide includes: gross income, do you rent or own, monthly housing payments, etc.
Ready to start your loan search? Let us make it easier for you with our International Student Loan Comparison Tool.
As an international student applying for a study abroad loan, one of the key things you will need to have is a cosigner. Don’t really know what a cosigner is? Not to worry, here is a breakdown of what a cosigner is, their role, and the best way to get one.
What is a Cosigner?
When applying for an international student loan, lenders need to evaluate your financial background and stability before approving your application. This means that they need to make sure that you will pay them back. However, because you are an international student you do not have a financial record in the US for lenders to look up. This is where a cosigner becomes an important part of the international student loan process.
A cosigner is someone who signs your loan application with you and by doing so says, ¨If Maria cannot make her loan payments, for whatever reason, I will take over the responsibility and make the payments on her behalf.¨ A cosigner signs this legal document which states that they will take on the responsibility of your debt if you cannot. Read the rest of this entry »
Summer is now in full swing and most of you probably have already made your final decision on what university you will be attending for the 2016-2017 academic year. For those of you who haven’t officially accepted enrollment, be sure to do that as soon as possible! Although you have now finished with all your college applications, the next step is starting your loan application. Do not fret! It may sound daunting, but here´s a break down of what information you’ll need to make your loan application a breeze.
- How Much Money You Want to Take Out
Before you can even dive in to begin figuring out which loan is the right fit for you, you´ll need to know how much you are going to take out. Although it does require some planning and number crunching, having this amount ready to go before you start looking at different lenders will make your decision process a lot easier and could save you money. Now you may be asking yourself, ¨how much should I borrow?¨ The key is to try and borrow the amount that you will realistically need and not an excessive amount. When receiving your student loan it may seem like it´s free money, but you must remember that it is not! If you borrow more money than you need your monthly payments will be higher, any financial aid you were given may be reduced, and you may be in debt longer than you would like. When calculating how much to take out as a loan, take into consideration the following: your university´s cost of attendance, funds in the case of an emergency, unexpected expenses, possible income, and how much money you have saved up.
- Your Personal Information
Now a days most lenders have made filling out your loan applications simpler, by allowing you to fill it out and submit it online. However, to speed up the process it is best to sit in front of your computer with all the information you’ll need right off the bat. This will prevent you from having to pause filling out the application to go in search of missing information. Below is a list of what personal information you should have prepared.
- University name, address, and telephone number
- Your major, year (freshman, sophomore, etc.), school term
- Your current home address and telephone numbers
- Housing information: rent or own, monthly payment amount
- Gross income
- Personal References: name, occupation, relationship, contact information
Having a cosigner on a student loan application is usually reserved for and required for non-US citizens, however US citizens or permanent residents can also benefit from adding a cosigner to their application. A cosigner is a person who joins your loan application and legally agrees to take responsibility for your loan payments in the event that you are unable to pay them. For international students, who are non-US citizens planning to attend a US university, having a co-signer is required. However, US citizens or permanent residents can choose to add a cosigner in order to increase their chances of loan approval and to receive better interest rates.Because your cosigner must be a US citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) you will need to have their personal information on hand such as name, address, telephone number, and social security number. It is important to inform your cosigner that they may have to log in themselves to fill out and sign a part of the loan application.
Read the rest of this entry »
For recent college graduates, between the celebrations, the job hunt, and just simply enjoying summer, you may have put thoughts of your student loans on the back burner. You may have remembered that your loan qualified for a grace period , but can´t remember exactly how long it was and don´t know how to enter into the world of loan repayments. Here are some tips to get you started on the right foot!
Double-check Your Calendar
Although, you haven´t been stressed about repaying your loans, the minimum grace period allotted tends to be about 6 months so your repayment season is more than likely approaching. Remember that lenders consider you a responsible adult who now has a debt to pay. This means you should not wait for them to contact you! If you´ve pushed your loans out of your mind for a while, now is the time to do all your research. To find out how long your grace period really is you can do the following:
- Read your loan promissory note:
Don´t remember what that is? Your loan promissory note is the contract you signed at the very beginning promising that you would repay your loan. It holds detailed information about your loan amount, the grace period, and the repayment plan you originally chose.
- Contact your lender: Can´t seem to find your promissory note or feeling a little overwhelmed looking over the paperwork? Whatever the case remember that your lender is only a phone call away. Don´t hesitate to take the time to contact your lender directly to discuss the details.
Research Your Options
Your promissory note may be a signed contract, but this does not mean that everything is set in stone. In general, lenders want to be paid back. What does this mean? It means that they are usually willing to work with you from the beginning to ensure that you will make on-time payments. The grace period you are given is meant to give you time to find work and establish yourself after graduating. However, things don´t always work out just the way we planned. If your financial situation isn´t where you would like it to be you have some options:
- Extend your grace period or request deferment: Not all lenders or loans provide this option, but it is worth looking into. If you are unemployed or going through financial hardship, it is possible that your lender will give you a little extra time. Depending on your lender, this can be considered an extension on your current grace period or fall under the category of deferment, a postponement of your loan payments. Being aware of what option they offer you is important, because you may only be eligible to request it once.
- Review your repayment plan:
As previously mentioned, all the details of your loan are spelled out on your promissory note. If financially you aren’t where you would like to be, but you think you can still begin to make payments, another option is to try and switch repayment plans. Lenders are aware that your originally chosen repayment plan may not fit your current situation and will be able to help you choose a better option.
By following these two steps you will be fully informed and ready to jump into the world of loan repayment. Take the time to do your research and don´t be afraid to ask questions. It is better to go into loan repayment fully prepared so that you never have to miss a payment!
For more information regarding your student loans, be sure to check out our International Student Loan Advice section.
The world of loans may seem intimidating at first glance, but by educating yourself it becomes a lot easier to manage. By using our Loan Comparison Tool your loan search will be narrowed down to provide you with lenders that work with your citizenship status and your school. Although, we make the process of finding a loan simpler, when it comes to comparing loans what is it that you should look at? Below are 3 key things to look for when comparing loans.
1. Low APR
APR stands for annual percentage rate; although, represented as a percentage it should not be confused with your loan’s interest rate. The APR is usually higher than the fixed or variable interest amount that the loan offers you, because in addition to the interest rate it takes into account additional fees (origination, disbursement, application), length of the deferment period, and how interest capitalizes. Often times lenders will provide you with an attractive interest rate, but not mention what fees may be found in the fine print. The usage of the APR system was required by the government to protect individuals from bad loan practices from banks. Your loan is a long term investment, so using the APR is a better way to quantify the real costs of loans and a lower percentage means the less you´ll be paying in the long run. Read the rest of this entry »
If you are a US student planning to directly enroll in a foreign university, one of the most important things to stay on top of are the deadlines. Having a solid timeline outlined for applications (university, financial aid, loans) will help ensure that you take advantage of all financial assistance at your disposal. If you have made the decision to take out a private student loan, make sure that you have exhausted all your other options: scholarships and savings (and FAFSA if you are a US student). The college application process can be overwhelming, but here are some key loan tips to help ease the stress.
1. Ask and You Shall Receive
Knowledge is power; the more informed you are the easier your decisions will be. Foreign universities may have a different system than what you are familiar with, so it is a good idea to get in contact with the financial aid department. Opening a line of communication with the school´s financial aid advisors can help you create a solid financial plan. You can normally find the financial advisors’ contact information published on the school website. Here are some ideas of what may be worth asking: Read the rest of this entry »
There are those of you about to enter into world of loan repayment who may have heard about this thing called loan consolidation. You think you have an idea of what it means, but just aren´t quite sure. Well don´t let the technical jargon throw you off. Here´s a nice little break down to start you off on the right track. First important fact, loan consolidation can be achieved through a federal or private lender.
Consolidation vs. Refinancing
When one speaks about consolidating loans, they are referring to combining multiple loans into one. This allows you to have one bill and one easy monthly payment. In comparison, when you refinance, rather than combining loans, you take out a new loan under new terms in order to pay off other existing loans. If looking to work with a federal lender, the only option is loan consolidation. However, if dealing with private lenders, you consolidate your loans into one easy monthly payment by refinancing; the goal being to ideally receive a lower interest rate under those new terms. Read the rest of this entry »