Frequently Asked Questions

Student loan basics

When do I start repaying my loan(s)?

Your first payment is due when your grace period ends, which for most federal student loans is six months after you graduate, withdraw, or drop below half-time enrollment.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Under the Master Promissory Note, it is your responsibility to know when and where to send your payments—do not wait to receive a payment notice or statement to make your payment. If you wait for your lender(s) to contact you first, you may have already missed a payment.

If you do not know when and where to send your payment, go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), the central database for federal student loan information. You will find contact information so you can call you lender(s) if you have any questions.

Can I get federal tax credit for paying tuition or interest on my student loan(s)?

You may be able to take advantage of a number of federal tax benefits, including credits, deductions and savings incentives to offset your costs for college or career training. For more... Read more >

You may be able to take advantage of a number of federal tax benefits, including credits, deductions and savings incentives to offset your costs for college or career training. For more information on these and other tax benefits, view our Possible Federal Tax Benefits at a Glance and consult a professional tax advisor.

Also, you will find details on all the tax benefits at the Internal Revenue Service website www.irs.gov.

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What if I can't afford to make my payments?

If you cannot afford the payment once it is due, you may work with your lender(s) to try to find a solution that works for you. Federal student loans offer several options, such as deferments... Read more >

If you cannot afford the payment once it is due, you may work with your lender(s) to try to find a solution that works for you. Federal student loans offer several options, such as deferments and forbearances, as well as flexible income-driven repayment options. Find out more in our Repayment options section.

If you do not know who your lender(s) is, go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), the central database for federal student loan information. This website will provide you contact information for your lender(s).

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Where can I get a complete summary of my loan(s)?

If you know who holds your federal student loan(s), you can contact each of those entities to receive a personal loan statement. If you are unsure who holds your loan(s), visit the National... Read more >

If you know who holds your federal student loan(s), you can contact each of those entities to receive a personal loan statement.

If you are unsure who holds your loan(s), visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), which is the centralized database for federal student loans. If you have a private or state loan(s), you will need to locate your promissory note for that loan(s) or call your school for more information.

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What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?

With subsidized loans, the federal government pays the interest on the loans while you are in school, during your grace period and during any authorized periods of deferment. Examples of... Read more >

With subsidized loans, the federal government pays the interest on the loans while you are in school, during your grace period and during any authorized periods of deferment. Examples of these types of loans include Perkins loans and subsidized Stafford loans.

In the case of unsubsidized loans, all the interest that accrues is your responsibility to pay. You have the choice of paying the interest quarterly or allowing the interest to accumulate until you enter repayment. Examples include PLUS loans and unsubsidized Stafford loans.

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What's a deferment?

A deferment is an authorized period of time during which you may postpone monthly payments. Deferments are granted by the lender under specific circumstances, such as unemployment or... Read more >

A deferment is an authorized period of time during which you may postpone monthly payments. Deferments are granted by the lender under specific circumstances, such as unemployment or returning to school. Use our Deferment eligibility checker to see whether you qualify for a deferment. You may also contact your lender(s) for help.

If you do not know who your lender(s) is, go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), the central database for federal student loan information. For a private student loan(s), refer to your promissory note to find your lender's contact information.

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What's a forbearance?

A forbearance is an authorized period of time during which a lender agrees to temporarily postpone payments or reduce your payment amount if you are experiencing short-term financial... Read more >

A forbearance is an authorized period of time during which a lender agrees to temporarily postpone payments or reduce your payment amount if you are experiencing short-term financial difficulties. Even though your payments are postponed, you will still be responsible for paying the interest that accrues on your loans, even on subsidized loans.

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Can I pay all or part of my loan(s) before payments are due (prepay)?

Yes, you may prepay your loans in part or in full at any time without any prepayment penalty, regardless of your repayment plan. If you can afford it, prepaying your loans helps reduce the... Read more >

Yes, you may prepay your loans in part or in full at any time without any prepayment penalty, regardless of your repayment plan. If you can afford it, prepaying your loans helps reduce the total cost of the loan.

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