Repaying Your Student Loans
Special Notice to student borrowers regarding student loan debt relief scams:
ISAC encourages student borrowers to do their homework before working with companies that claim to help students in managing their student loan debt. These companies may offer to help students consolidate their loans, reduce their interest rates or eliminate their loans entirely. Unfortunately, many of these companies may be engaging in scams. Beware of companies that ask you to pay an upfront fee and/or sign a document allowing the company to act on your behalf—many of the services these companies claim to offer for a fee are available free of charge from the U.S. Department of Education or by contacting your loan servicer directly. In a December 2014 consumer advisory announcing action taken to end two student loan debt relief scams, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides warning signs that a student loan debt relief company may not be legitimate.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against companies alleged to be conducting debt relief scams. ISAC joins the Attorney General’s Office in urging you to remember to never pay for information about how to pay back your student loans, to learn about your repayment options through the resources and links provided below, and to contact your loan servicer directly to arrange repayment. If you don't know who your loan holder is, use the My Federal Student Aid website or phone 800.4FED.AID (800.433.3243) for help in identifying them.
If you feel you have been the victim of fraud or a scam, use the contact information in the Attorney General’s Student Loan Debt Relief Fact Sheet to make a report. You can also use the Attorney General’s Student Loan Helpline – 800.455.2456 (TTY – 800.964.3013) – to file complaints of student loan debt relief scams.
Note that details provided on this page reference loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). Effective July 1, 2010, all new federal student loans will come directly from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (Federal Direct Loans). For information regarding Federal Direct Loans, refer to ED's Direct Loan Program website or contact the college's financial aid office.
Any loans you’ve taken out for college need to be paid back, regardless of whether you’ve completed your degree or landed a job in your field of study. In addition, some of the financial aid you’ve received may have program requirements that must be met now to prevent the funds received from turning into a loan. Once out of college, you’ll typically have a six to nine month grace period (depending on the type of loan program) before you have to start making payments. With a Federal Stafford Loan, most lenders will allow you to choose a repayment plan that best suits your new income and financial status. Use one of the many available estimators to find out which plans you may be eligible for and get estimates of your monthly and overall payments. In the absence of a repayment option selection, you will be given the standard repayment option.
Repaying your student loan(s) is a very important responsibility. The consequences of falling behind and becoming delinquent will have a detrimental effect on your credit rating and may lead to default. Make sure you budget your money wisely in order to make your monthly payments. If you are having a difficult time and are unable to make your payments, contact your lender immediately to discuss your situation.
If you are unsure who holds your loan(s) and need help identifying your lender, servicer and/or guarantor, use the My Federal Student Aid website or the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) Student Access site to retrieve your loan information, including outstanding balances and statuses. You may also contact them by phone at 800-4-FED-AID (800.433.3243).
Visit the National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) Successful Student Loan Repayment Information page for additional resources regarding the student loan repayment process, including the NCHER brochure entitled You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers: Helping You Successfully Repay Your Student Loans.