4 Student Loan Tips for College Grads
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You did it! All those long days studying at the library, the all-nighters to cram for midterms or finals, and the last-minute extra credit assignments – you’ve officially graduated, and we couldn’t be more excited for you!
Your college graduation marks a significant milestone in your transition from college student to finding your first job after college. But before stepping off the graduation stage into the real world, it’s important to set yourself up for success even after graduation, and that starts with understanding your college loans.
Tip #1: Know Your Loans & Lenders
The best place to start when understanding your student loans is to familiarize yourself with the types of loans that you might have. For example, whether you want a student loan with a cosigner or a student loan without a cosigner.
- Federal Student Loans: If you completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and received financial aid at any point during your college career, you may have taken out federal student loans. With federal student loans, your lender is technically the federal government, and they have different types of loan servicers who collect payments on their behalf.
You can check to see if you have any federal student loans by visiting the StudentAid.gov site or calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (or 1-800-730-8913 for hearing-impaired individuals) to speak with a counselor.
- Private Student Loans: Private student loans are offered by banks, credit unions, and other types of lenders, and are a little different from federal student loans. Depending on your lender, your repayment terms and grace periods may differ.
Once you understand the types of loans that you have, make sure your contact information is up-to-date, so your lender knows how to get in touch with you. After you graduate and your student loans go into repayment, you will be required to make a payment regardless of whether your lender can contact you or not. The last thing you want to do is avoid making a payment on your student loans and go into default.
Tip #2: Understand Your Grace Period
In lending, a grace period is the amount of time you have until you need to make your first payment on your loans without penalty.
This grace period buys you some time as you transition from college student to college graduate and embark on the next chapter of your life. If you don’t land your dream job with the salary you had in mind after graduation, the grace period can help you buy some time until you’re ready to make that first payment. But you should know, each type of loan comes with a different grace period and some lenders have none at all.
- Federal Student Loans: After you graduate, drop below half-time status, or exit school, your federal student loans might automatically go into repayment, and your 6-month grace period will begin. However, not all federal loans have a grace period. You can check to see what type of federal student loans you have by visiting studentaid.gov.
- Private Student Loans: Depending on your lender, your grace periods may differ, or you might not have one at all. Depending on the type of Ascent loan you have, if you selected a Deferred Repayment Plan, you may not be required to make a payment until 9 months after you graduate or more. For other repayment plans, your first payment may be due 30 to 45 days after you or your school receives the money.
If you have an Ascent loan, the best way to understand your repayment plan and grace period are to contact Ascent’s student loan servicer, Launch Servicing, by emailing [email protected] or calling 877-354-2629.
Although payments will not be required during your grace period, interest will continue to build on your original loan amount. If you can, we recommend making a minimum payment to cover the cost of interest on your student loans but be sure to check with your lender (lenders like Ascent won’t penalize you for making payments during your grace period, but others might).
Tip #3: Remember Your Repayment Plan
By now, you should know 1) What type of student loans you have and 2) Your grace period. Once you’ve successfully mastered tips 1 and 2, you’re ready to start understanding your repayment options.
- Federal Student Loans: Depending on the type of federal student loans you have, you may be eligible for 8 different repayment options. Just remember, you may have selected a repayment plan during your FAFSA application process, so please be sure to contact your loan servicer to confirm your repayment options.
- Private Student Loans: With the risk of sounding like a broken record, your repayment options depend on your lender. For Ascent loans, you may be eligible for 3 different repayment options: Deferred Repayment, Interest Only Repayment, and $25 Minimum Repayment.
To become more familiar with the repayment plan you selected or to change your repayment plan, please contact your loan servicer. For Ascent, you will need to contact Launch Servicing by emailing [email protected] or calling 877-354-2629.
Tip #4: Plan to Pay
Now comes the fun part – how do you make a payment on your student loans?
- Federal Student Loans: Depending on the type of federal loans you have; your loan servicer may be different. By now, you should know who your loan servicer is and the types of loans you have. Reach out to them with more information on how to make payments.
- Private Student Loans: The same goes for private student loans. Your loan servicer depends on the lender. For Ascent loans, you will need to contact Launch Servicing to make payments on your student loans by emailing [email protected] or calling 877-354-2629.
When you contact Launch Servicing, be sure to ask about enrolling in automatic payments, so you don’t forget to make your monthly payment while in-school or after you graduate. If you enroll in automatic payments, you could get either a 0.25% discount on our Credit-Based Loans or a 1.00% discount on our Outcomes-Based Loans. See Automatic Payment Terms & Conditions.
Regardless of your repayment plan, you can make a payment on your Ascent loan at any time. Making payments before you go into repayment or making payments above your monthly minimum can help save you a lot of money on interest over time. With Ascent’s loans, you won’t be charged any fees or penalties if you choose to pay off your loan early.
Repaying your student loans doesn’t have to be that stressful. Understanding your options and planning ahead can help make your journey to financial wellness even brighter.