5 Things to Consider When Taking Out Student Loans

student loan repaymentFederal student loans can be a great way to help pay for college or career school.  While you shouldn’t be afraid to take out federal student loans, you should be smart about it. Before you take out a loan, it’s important to understand that a loan is a legal obligation that you will be responsible for repaying with interest.

Here are some tips to help you become a responsible borrower.

  1. Keep track of how much you’re borrowing. Think about how the amount of your loans will affect your future finances, and how much you can afford to repay. Your student loan payments should be only a small percentage of your salary after you graduate, so it’s important not to borrow more than you need. To view all of your federal student loan information in one place, go to nslds.ed.gov, select Financial Aid Review, and log in.
  2. Research starting salaries in your field. Ask your school for starting salaries of recent graduates in your field of study to get an idea of how much you are likely to earn after you graduate. You can use the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook to estimate salaries for different careers or use a career search tool to research careers and view the average annual salary for each career.
  3. Understand the terms of your loan and keep copies of your loan documents. When you sign your promissory note, you are agreeing to repay the loan according to the terms of the note even if you don’t complete your education, can’t get a job after you complete the program, or you didn’t like the education you received.
  4. Make payments on time. You are required to pay the full amount required by your repayment plan, as partial payments do not fulfill your obligation to repay your student loan on time.  Find out more about student loan repayment, including when repayment starts, how to make your payment, repayment plan options, and more!
  5. Keep in touch with your loan servicer. Notify your loan servicer when you graduate; withdraw from school; drop below half-time status; transfer to another school; or change your name, address, or Social Security number. You also should contact your servicer if you’re having trouble making your scheduled loan payments. Your servicer has several options available to help you keep your loan in good standing.

Remember, federal student loans are an investment in your future so invest wisely.

Tara Young is a communication analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid


  1. I attended my son’s college orientation and when it came time for the financial aid folks to do their job, I was amazed with how the parents took over responsibility for the loans. I understand that some had trusts that covered the cost of tuition, but most were about financial aid and loans. Parents did not talk about their kids assuming these debts, I really believe they felt like they were signing the loans. Unless they are doing a parent plus loan then there needs to be a transition that these kids will be paying this back. I think we are trying to shield students too much regarding there own future and unfortunately, a lot of parents don’t want to have the conversation that this is your debt your choices may be unrealistic.

  2. I wasted money because I still cannot obtain a job in my field. When I contacted the university where I attended, I was told to call another college and see if they can help me, please! Also, they expelled a student for plagiarism, but let her return after she helped an academic advisor obtain a position at a coveted company. My education was a HUGE waste.

  3. The person who is 62, on disability, and unemployed, with student loan debt, should contact his/her congressional representative(s), including the two Senators from that state, request constituent services, and put everything in writing…It should be forgiven.

  4. Wish I had known that even though I am on disability,the Feds would lend me $60,000, which I can’t tell you how I will pay back.Also,I have no job and I am 62-Now what?

    • To: Barb
      If you are disabled, call the lender and tell them. Ask for forms for your doctor(s) to fill out what your disability and other information regarding your condition. Your doctor(s) can help you get loan forgiveness. Just call the lender first, explain, ask for forms and have your doctor(s) input. If you are seeing more than one doctor, get as many forgiveness forms as you need.
      It takes your lender several (and, I do mean several) months to decide if the documentation your doctor(s) provide meets the standard definition of disabled. Hope this helps.

  5. Number six should be: “Take note that the United States government may spontaneously decide that you are no longer enrolled in school even when you still are. Then, they will force you to start paying loans back a year before you graduate even when you send them more than enough documentation proving your continuous full-time enrollment in school.”

    • That is what is happening to us, his parents who are the cosigners for the loans. He had to work on his GPA, skipped a semester, has been back for 2 semesters and continues,, but his college loans were called in. I was told that the college needs to let the lender know. There are no forms to fill out and send… Just so frustrated and just continue paying..Its a mess…

  6. I like your article very informative. There is a growing trend of for profit colleges to defraud the government and the students how do we help these students get these fraudulent loans discharged? I would like your help in this matter?

    • …..The loans are not fradulent, the person who took out the loans and went to a for profit college is not very bright. Should have paid more attention in High School…

      • Jeff and Morseller,

        Not all for profit schools are bad. Many have graduates working in amazing fields. In fact, for profit schools are held to a much higher standard in regards to govt. regulation. Morseller, no college guarantees a job. What are you doing to get it? If you are just sitting on Monster.com and sending out resumes, that is not how to get a job in this economy. You need to network, join professional groups, and hustle. Jeff, assuming because someone went to a for profit college is not bright, is stupid on your part.

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