What are the four types of federal student loans?
The U.S. Department of Education currently offers direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, direct PLUS loans, and direct consolidation loans. Subsidized loans are solely for eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need to help cover the costs of a higher education, while unsubsidized loans are available for eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, though eligibility isn’t based on financial need. PLUS loans are made to graduate or professional students as well as parents of dependent undergraduate students for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. A consolidation loan allows you to combine all of your eligible federal student loans into one loan with a sole loan servicer.
Should you pay off your student loans early?
It depends on your financial circumstances. Since interest may accumulate on your student loans while you’re in school (depending on the type of loan), it may make sense to begin making payments toward your debt before the actual due date kicks in. There are no penalties for making prepayments on either federal or private student loans, so if you are able it can save you some money to start early.
What happens if you don’t pay off your student loan?
The first day following a missed student loan payment, your student loan becomes past due (i.e., delinquent) until you either repay the past due amount or make other arrangements with your creditor. Remaining delinquent for 90 days or more will result in your loan servicer reporting the delinquency to the three major national credit bureaus. Following a certain period of delinquency, which varies based on the type of loan, there is also a risk of the loan going into default.
Can student loans repayments come out of your retirement funds?
Per the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), most employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as a 401(k), are protected from seizure by creditors in nearly all cases. However, according to the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, up to 15% of your Social Security payments can be garnished to repay your federal student loan(s) should you default. Fortunately, the amount garnished cannot reduce your monthly benefit payment below $750.
An education loan, more commonly known as a student loan, is an amount of money borrowed from a federal or private lender to pay for a higher education. This sum can be used to cover the cost of tuition, textbooks, other school supplies, and basic living expenses so that a student may focus on earning their degree. Generally speaking, federal student loans offer lower interest rates than their private counterparts.
Federal Direct Loan Program
The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program is a federal student loan program offered by the U.S. Department of Education. The Federal Direct Loan Program is available to eligible postsecondary students and their parents. Direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, direct PLUS loans, and direct consolidation loans are all available through this program.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an official form that must be filled out in order to receive financial aid from the federal government. To complete the FAFSA, you must provide information about yourself and your financial situation. The FAFSA is available starting Oct. 1 of the year prior to enrollment, and the federal due date is June 30 of the academic year (some colleges and/or states have their own deadlines).
FAFSA Award Letter
A FAFSA award letter is provided by the colleges that are listed on your FAFSA form and details the cost of attendance for an academic year and your eligibility for any grants, loans, etc. Most colleges send out award letters alongside their admission offer letters. Although colleges have access to your FAFSA information a day after it’s processed, the timeframes for reviewing your FAFSA information may vary from one university to another.
A deferment period is an amount of time where a borrower isn't required to repay their loan's principal or interest. Deferment periods vary based on the type of loan; student loans can only be deferred for up to three years. Depending on the type of student loan, you may still have to pay down the interest that accrues during the deferment period.
A PLUS loan is offered to graduate & professional students and the parents of dependent undergraduates. While eligibility isn’t based on financial need, a credit check is required, and borrowers with an adverse credit history won’t be eligible without meeting other criteria. The max amount available to you will be based on your chosen college's cost of attendance minus any financial aid you’ve received.
Direct Consolidation Loan
A direct consolidation loan allows you to combine all of your eligible federal student loans into just one loan with a sole loan servicer. Your consolidated loan will have a fixed interest rate based on the average of the original loans’ interest rates. Consolidating multiple loans can be accomplished at no cost to you and allows you to reduce your number of monthly payments.
Student Loan Interest Deduction
A student loan interest deduction allows you to deduct up to $2,500 of the interest paid on qualified student loans during the tax year. The deduction is only available if you meet certain eligibility criteria, and it’s gradually reduced as your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) reaches its annual limit. This interest deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income, so it don't need to itemized on your income tax returns.
Federal Student Aid. "Federal Student Loans for College or Career School Are an Investment in Your Future."
U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid. "The U.S. Department of Education Offers Low-Interest Loans to Eligible Students to Help Cover the Cost of College or Career School."
Federal Student Aid. "Student Loan Delinquency and Default."
U.S. Government Accountability Office. "Social Security Offsets," Pages 6–7.
Federal Student Aid. "FAFSA® Deadlines."
Federal Student Aid. "I Filled Out My FAFSA Form. When Can I Expect to Receive Information About My Financial Aid?"
Federal Student Aid. "Student Loan Deferment Allows You to Temporarily Stop Making Payments."
Federal Student Aid. "Direct Consolidation Loan Application."
Internal Revenue Service. "Topic No. 456 Student Loan Interest Deduction."