How to Compare Student Loan Options
September 25th, 2016 by Lette Berhe

Compare International Student Loans

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Repayment Schedule
    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:
    • 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.
  3. Special Conditions and Additional Fees
    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:
    • Deferment
    • 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?¨

 


Loan Grace Period: Grace Has Left The Building
May 19th, 2016 by Lette Berhe

calendarFor 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.


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