Loan Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I access my loan information?
The U.S. Department of Education's National Student Loan Data System provides information on your federal loans including loan types, disbursed amounts, outstanding principal and interest, and the total amount of all your loans. To access NSLDS, go to www.nslds.ed.gov
If you're not sure who your loan servicer is, you can look it up on www.nslds.ed.gov
or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
Borrower Grace Periods
After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you have a period of time before you have to begin repayment. This "grace period" will be:
Six months for a Federal Stafford Loan (Direct Loan Program or Federal Family Education Loan (FFELP) Program).
Nine months for Federal Perkins Loans.
PLUS Borrowers—The repayment period for all PLUS Loans begins on the date the loan is fully disbursed, and the first payment is due within 60 days of the final disbursement. Parent PLUS Loan borrowers whose loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008, may choose to have repayment deferred while the student for whom the parent borrowed is enrolled at least half-time and for an additional six months after that student is no longer enrolled at least half-time. Interest that accrues during these periods will be capitalized if not paid by the parent during the deferment.
Make Your Payments on Time
Your loan servicer will provide information about repayment and will notify you of the date loan repayment begins. It is very important that you make your full loan payment on time either monthly (which is usually when you'll pay) or according to your repayment schedule. If you don't, you could end up in default, which has serious consequences. Student loans are real loans—just as real as car loans or mortgages. You have to pay back your student loans.
If you're having trouble making payments on your loans, contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. Your servicer will work with you to determine the best option for you.
- Requesting a deferment—If you meet certain requirements, a deferment allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan.
- Requesting a forbearance—If you don't meet the eligibility requirements for a deferment but are temporarily unable to make your loan payments, then (in limited circumstances) a forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your loan, temporarily make smaller payments, or extend the time for making payments.
If you stop making payments and don't get a deferment or forbearance, your loan could go into default, which has serious consequences.
Paying interest on your loan while you are in school
If you choose not to pay the interest on your Direct Unsubsidized or PLUS Loan while you’re in school, the government will add it to the unpaid principal amount of your loan when you enter repayment. This is called “capitalization.” Capitalization increases the unpaid principal balance of your loan, and the government will then charge interest on the increased principal amount. Check your interest statements, and use the online calculators at www.dl.ed.gov to find out how much you’ll pay over the life of the loan if the in-school interest is added to your loan balance. If you want to pay the interest that accrues on your Direct Unsubsidized Loan or your PLUS Loan while you’re in school, contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center at 1-800-848-0979.
How much time will I have to repay my loan, and how much will I have to pay each month?
Generally, you’ll have from 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on the repayment plan that you choose. Your monthly payment amount will be based on the amount you borrowed and the repayment plan you select.
Direct Loan student borrowers may choose one of several repayment plans:
- Standard Repayment Plan—You make fixed monthly payments for up to 10 years.
- Graduated Repayment Plan—Your payments start off lower at first and then gradually increase, usually every 2 years. The loan must be repaid within 10 years.
- Extended Fixed or Extended Graduated Repayment Plan—You make fixed or graduated monthly payments over a period of time not to exceed 25 years. Extended repayment plans are available only to new Direct Loan borrowers on or after Oct. 7, 1998, who currently have an outstanding Direct Loan balance of more than $30,000.
- Income Contingent Repayment Plan—Your monthly payment is adjusted each year based on your annual income (and your spouse’s income, if you’re married), your family size, and the total amount of your Direct Loans. After 25 years, any unpaid loan amount will be forgiven. This plan is currently available only to Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loan borrowers. Beginning July 1, 2009, this plan also will be available to student Direct PLUS Loan borrowers.
Note that beginning July 1, 2009, a new Income-based Repayment Plan will become available to student Direct Loan borrowers (parent Direct PLUS Loan borrowers may not repay their Direct PLUS Loan under this plan). Your payment under this plan will be based on your income during any period when you have a partial financial hardship. Your monthly payment amount may be adjusted annually. The maximum repayment period under this plan may exceed 10 years. If you meet certain requirements over a specified period of time, you may qualify for cancellation of any outstanding balance on your loans. You can change plans at any time. There’s no penalty if you make payments before they are due or pay more than the amount due each month. You can find more information about these plans by contacting the Department’s Direct Loan Servicing Center Online at: www.dl.ed.gov
Can I get help repaying my loan?
Public Service Employment—If you are employed in certain public service jobs and have made 120 payments on your Direct Loans (after Oct. 1, 2007), the remaining balance that you owe may be forgiven. Only payments made under certain repayment plans may be counted toward the required 120 payments. You must not be in default on the loans that are forgiven.
Armed Forces—As part of their recruitment programs, the Armed Forces may repay your education loan if you enlist in the military. For more information, contact your local military service recruitment office.
Can my loan ever be canceled or discharged?
You must repay your loan even if you don’t complete or can’t find a job related to your program of study, or if you are unhappy with the education you paid for with your loan. However, the government will cancel your loan if you have your loan discharged in bankruptcy or if you become totally and permanently disabled and meet certain additional requirements. The government may discharge some or all of your loan if:
- The school closed before you completed your program.
- The school forged your signature on your promissory note or falsely certified that you were eligible to get the loan.
- A loan in your name was falsely certified through identity theft.
- You withdrew from school but the school didn’t return the portion of your aid award that it was required to return under our regulations. (See the written notice on return of aid that your school provides to its students.)
What is loan consolidation?
A Consolidation Loan allows you to combine your federal student loans into a single loan, which may allow you to extend the repayment period. The interest rate for a Direct Consolidation Loan is based on a weighted average of the loans being consolidated. (Note that while extending the repayment period may lower your monthly payments, you may pay more interest over the life of the Direct Consolidation Loan.)
How do I consolidate my loans?
You can consolidate your loans by doing the following:
- Apply for a consolidation loan.
- You will need information/paperwork regarding the outstanding student loans that you owe.
Is there a downside to consolidation?
Although consolidation can help many students manage their monthly payments, there are some cases when consolidation may not be right for you.
- You may lose certain benefits (such as cancellation benefits, interest subsidies, etc.) that were offered on the loans being consolidated.
- If you are close to paying off your student loans, it may not make sense to consolidate or extend your payments. By extending the years of repayment for your loans, you may be increasing the total amount you have to pay in interest.
Discuss your options with the financial aid office at your school.
What happens if I default on my loan?
Default occurs when you become 270 days delinquent in making payments on your loan. At the time of default, outstanding interest is capitalized and collection fees may be added, resulting in a loan balance that is higher than the amount borrowed. Borrowers who default on student loans face serious consequences.
What is loan default?
If a student fails to make a payment, the government will send the student a reminder that their payment is late. If the student's account remains delinquent, the government will send out warning notices reminding the student of their obligation to repay their loan and the consequences of default. Late fees may be added if payments are late, and delinquency will be reported to one or more national credit bureaus.
If you default on a loan, the following may occur:
- The entire unpaid amount of your loan becomes due and payable.
- Your default will be reported to national credit bureaus.
- The government may sue you, or take all or part of your federal tax refund or other federal payments, or garnish your wages so that your employer is required to send the government part of your salary to pay off your loan, or use a combination of these actions.
- You’ll have to pay collection fees and costs, plus court costs and attorney fees.
- You’ll lose eligibility for other federal student aid and most other federal benefit programs.
- You’ll no longer be eligible for loan deferments (such as deferments while you’re in school, unemployed, or experiencing economic hardship).
How do I avoid loan default?
Avoid loan default by doing the following:
- Notify your school and the Direct Loan Servicing Center if you change your name (for example, to your married name), local address, permanent address or telephone number.
- Make your payments on time.
- Stay in contact with your lender/holder of your loan.
- Make sure you take advantage of deferments and forbearances when you need them. A deferment is a temporary suspension of your monthly loan payment. There are many different types of deferments available. For more information about deferments, contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center.
- Borrow conservatively. Calculate your expenses for the semester and/or year and only borrow what you absolutely need.
You may qualify for a deferment if:
- You return to school at least half-time at a school that’s eligible to participate in the Department’s Federal Student Aid programs.
- You are unemployed or meet the rules for economic hardship.
- You are serving on active duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency, or you are performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency, and if you are serving on or after Oct. 1, 2007, for the 180-day period following the demobilization date for your qualifying service.
- You are a member of the National Guard or other reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces (current or retired) and are called or ordered to active duty while enrolled at an eligible school, or within 6 months after having been enrolled. For this deferment, the deferment period is after the completion of the active duty service.
If you don’t qualify for a deferment but are temporarily unable to make loan payments for such reasons as illness or financial hardship, you may be eligible for a forbearance. A forbearance also allows you to defer loan payments in certain situations, such as during an illness. Interest is charged on on Direct Unsubsidized and PLUS Loans during all periods of deferment and forbearance. Interest on Direct Subsidized Loans is charged only during periods of forbearance. Learn more about avoiding loan default.
Who do I contact about loans at Triton College?
Please direct any further questions to:
The Financial Aid Office
Student Center Building
(708) 456-0300, Ext. 3155
The Admission Call Center
Student Center Building
(708) 456-0300, Ext. 3130