When it comes to repaying your federal student loan, there’s a lot to consider. Understanding the details of repayment can save you time and money. Find out when repayment starts, how to make your payment, repayment plan options, what to do if you have trouble making payments, and more!
When do I begin making my student loan payments?
- You don’t have to begin repaying most federal student loans until after you leave college or drop below half-time enrollment. However, PLUS loans enter repayment once your loan is fully disbursed (paid out).
- You have a six month grace period. The grace period is a set period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment before you must begin repayment on your loan. The grace period gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment plan. Note that for most loans, interest will accrue during your grace period.
- For more information, go to the Department of Education.
How much will my student loan payment be?
- Go to National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) www.nslds.ed.gov to access total federal student loan amount borrowed.
- Your loan repayment amount can be calculated at Get Money Smarts.
Who do I make my student loan payment to?
- You will make your loan payment to your loan servicer. A loan servicer is a company that handles the billing and other services on your federal student loan. The loan servicer will work with you on repayment plans and loan consolidation and will assist you with other tasks related to your federal student loan.
- Visit NSLDS or My Federal Student Aid to view information about all of the federal student loans you have received and to find contact information for the loan servicer or lender for your loans.
What are my student loan repayment plan options?
- To see the current repayment plans available, go to the Department of Education.
What should I do if I’m having trouble making my student loan payment?
- Remember there is FREE help available.
- The Montana University System offers a number of solutions if you cannot make a payment or if you have already defaulted and are trying to return your loan to good standing.
- If you are behind in your student loan payments, please call our Default Prevention Unit at 1-877-293-8946, or e-mail Default Prevention
- If your loans have already defaulted (270 days past due) and you would like to discuss your options, please call our Default Resolution Unit at 1-800-322-3086 or e-mail Default Resolution.
There are State and Federal programs available to potentially discharge or forgive all or a portion of your federal student loan debt, if you meet specific qualifications.
Most borrowers of federal education loans must repay the full amount that they borrowed plus interest. But borrowers in certain occupations may qualify for loan forgiveness. Under certain exceptional circumstances, borrowers may qualify to have all or a portion of their loan obligation discharged.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program
The PSLF Program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue to work full-time in public service jobs. Under this program, you may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on your William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Loan Program) loans after you have made 120 qualifying payments on those loans while employed full-time by certain public service employers. Since you must make 120 qualifying payments on your eligible federal student loans after October 1, 2007 before you qualify for the loan forgiveness, the first forgiveness of loan balances will not be granted until October 2017. More information on this program can be found here.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue in the teaching profession. Under this program, if you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in certain elementary and secondary schools and educational service agencies that serve low-income families, and meet other qualifications, you may be eligible for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 on your Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and your Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans. If you have Plus loans only, you are not eligible for this type of forgiveness. More information on this program can be found here.
Several loan repayment and assistance programs are available through the Montana University System.
Quality Educator Loan Assistance Program
The Quality Educator Loan Assistance Program provides for the direct repayment of educational loans. The total loan repayment assistance may not exceed $3,000 per year for up to four years. Qualified applicants will be ranked based on a scoring system that takes into account the impacted schools and academic areas. More information including eligibility requirements and applications for this program can be found at the Montana Guaranteed Student Loan Program.
Montana Rural Physician Incentive Program
The Montana Rural Physician Incentive Trust Fund was established to facilitate payment of qualified educational debts of rural physicians who serve communities or populations that are medically underserved and where there is a demonstrated need for medical services. The trust is funded by fees assessed to all Montana allopathic and osteopathic medical students participating in the WICHE and WWAMI programs. More information including eligibility requirements and applications for this program can be found here.
Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program
The Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program is a loan reimbursement program for individuals who are licensed to practice as a registered professional nurse and who are currently employed as a full-time registered professional nurse by either the Montana state prison or the Montana state hospital. More information on this program can be found here.
Remember you can receive FREE help. Do not pay for assistance when you can get help for free! As you research loan forgiveness programs, keep in mind:
- Loan forgiveness is best handled directly through your loan servicer.
- The Financial Education Program Coordinator on your campus is a great in-person resource that can help plan your strategy.