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5 Steps to Take After Graduation

As you near graduation, it’s a good idea to research and understand the details of repaying your federal student loans, including when repayment starts, repayment options, how to make your payments, and more. In addition, some loans, grants and scholarship require you to complete an exit interview before you graduate.

Get to Know Your Loan Servicer

Your loan servicer is the company that handles the billing and other services on your federal student loans. The loan servicer will work with you on repayment plans and consolidation options as well as assist you with other administrative tasks related to your federal student loans. You should never be required to pay enrollment, subscription, or maintenance fees to enroll in a federal repayment plan or forgiveness program.

Set up an online account with your loan servicer so that you're prepared when repayment begins. Many loan services also have apps to make managing repayment even easier.

To view your federal loan balances and loan servicer information, log into My Federal Student Aid with the same FSA ID credentials that you used to file your FAFSA.

Update Your Contact Information

It is important to update your contact information for your student loans when you first graduate and every time you move. Updating your information and using a permanent address (such as your parents’ address) as a backup will help you to receive the information in a timely manner and determine the best way to manage your student loans.

Research Repayment Plans

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—for free – by contacting your loan servicer. Federal repayment plan options are the same regardless of what loan servicer you were assigned.

Use the Repayment Plan Estimator to simulate different repayment plan scenarios using your specific borrowing data. You can log in with your FSA ID to import exact figures or enter data by hand to compare repayment plan options.

Investigate Loan Consolidation

A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to combine multiple federal education loans into one loan with a single monthly payment. The decision to consolidate should be carefully weighed, keeping the pros and cons of doing so and your unique circumstances in mind.

Private education loans cannot be consolidated through a Direct Consolidation Loan. If you have both federal and private education loans, you are generally advised not to consolidate these loans through a private lender because this eliminates the protections, repayment, deferment, and forbearance options that make federal loans advantageous.

Make a Plan to Pay Off Debt

Repaying student loan debt can seem like a daunting task but being informed and creating a payoff plan will help you manage the process with minimal stress. It is important to set up a plan that will allow you to pay off your student loans as quickly as reasonably possible. Generally, you should start by concentrating on paying down private student loans and credit card debt while making minimum payments on your federal student loans. The interest rates on federal student loans are generally lower and you're able to claim a portion of the interest you pay each year on your taxes. If you are able, even a small increase to your minimum payment will significantly reduce the interest paid on Federal Direct Loans over time.

For more information on the student loan repayment process, visit FSA's Understanding Repayment site or check out this useful Repayment Guide (PDF).