Your student loan grace period is a set amount of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment before you must begin repayment on your loan. For most student loans, the grace period is six months but in some instances, a grace period could be longer. The grace period gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment plan.*
Here are four things you can do during your grace period to prepare for repayment:
1. Get Organized
Start by tracking down all of your student loans. There is a website that allows you to view all your federal student loans in one place.
Note: Don’t forget to check to see if you have private student loans.
2. Contact Your Loan Servicer
A loan servicer is a company that handles the billing and other services on your federal student loan. Your loan servicer can help you choose a repayment plan, understand loan consolidation, and complete other tasks related to your federal student loan, so it is important to maintain contact with your loan servicer. If your circumstances change at any time during your repayment period, your loan servicer will be able to help.
To find out who your loan servicer is, visit nslds.ed.gov. You may have more than one loan servicer, so it is important that you look at each loan individually.
3. Estimate Your Monthly Payments Under Different Repayment Plans
Federal Student Aid recently launched a Repayment Estimator that lets you compare your monthly student loan payment under different repayment plans to help you figure out which repayment plan is right for you.
Just go to www.StudentLoans.gov –> Log in –> Click “Repayment Estimator” in bottom left corner. It will pull in all of your federal student loan information automatically so you can compare repayment plans based on your specific situation.
4. Select The Repayment Plan That Works For You
Although you may select or be assigned a repayment plan when you first begin repaying your student loan, you can change repayment plans at any time. Flexible repayment options are one of the greatest benefits of federal student loans. There are options to tie your monthly payments to your income and even ways you can have your loans forgiven if you are a teacher or employed in certain public service jobs. Once you have determined which repayment plan is right for you, you must contact your loan servicer to officially select a new repayment plan.
* Not all federal student loans have a grace period. Note that for many loans, interest will accrue during your grace period.
Nicole Callahan is a new media analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.