Keys to Avoiding Student Loan Pain

By: Court Tuttle

When we discuss the 'pain' that comes with student loans, there are two different types of associated pain. We will start with the confusing pain of going through some of the many steps necessary of obtaining a loan. In January, high school seniors will receive those fat letters that will need to be filled out to abide by government rules.

The Department of Education's claim that it takes only an hour to fill out the 124-question Free Application for Federal Student Aid is not the total truth. It's about double that time. In fact, all of the paperwork you will be filling out will be double the time stated on the forms.

All students, wealthy or poor must fill out many different forms for college merit scholarships as well as the federal government's programs, which offers reasonable, priced loans regardless of need. It is best to fill out the FAFSA in January using estimates on previous year's taxes.

If you have any questions, and feel the FAFSA does not describe your financial situation, add a letter of explanation with the application. The feeling of financial frustration ratchets up in spring. Letters start to arrive from competing schools.

Often these schools mean the same thing yet use different wording to make their awards sound more appealing. Question everything that does not appear clear to you. Keep in mind it is mostly time consuming and a lot of necessary reading for all of the small important print.

To help ease the pain, stay on top of the paperwork and when you have questions, call the school counselor or telephone numbers on the other forms to ask questions. Don't put any of this part off.

The second step in handling a school loan is the repayment part. This is usually is not as difficult as obtaining one, unless you make it so. It is like any other bill or loan with the exception of dates, time limits, small to large penalties, if they are not met.

Students must begin repaying the loan after their grace period ends, after graduation, if they withdraw from school or drop below half-time status in school. The borrower has signed a contract and is expected to keep his part. The payment plan will automatically be set on a schedule.

You will be expected to make the payment on time, each month. Making late payments, or missing payments, can cause borrowers loans to go into default. This can lead to payments being withdrawn from tax refunds or paychecks.

Student Loans
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