A Big-Ass List Of Student Loan Resources

It’s a tough economic climate to be graduating from school — and maybe an even tougher one for those of you trying to get financial aid. We’ve put together a list of some financial aid and student lending resources to help make things easier.

Enjoy.

A Big Ass List Of Student Loan Resources

FinAid‘s calculators can help you figure out how much school will cost, how much you need to save and how much aid you’ll need. FinAid also has basic information about different types of loans, scholarships and military aid.

Student Loan Borrower Assistance, a project of the National Consumer Law Center, provides resources for people who already have student loans and want to know more about their options and rights. This website provides good information for people who are having trouble playing their student loans, and want more information about federal student loan rehabilitation (PDF), student loans and bankruptcy, and collections. They also provide information on where to go for help, including legal assistance.

The US Department of Education has information for those of your preparing for college, including help choosing a school, and applying for financial aid. For in depth information, check out Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid.

If you are having serious problems with your federal student loans, the FSA Ombudsman is there to help. In addition to personalized assistance, they offer tips for dealing with your loan servicer. To find out who is servicing your loan, use the National Student Loan Data System.

If you’re considering applying for a private loan, check out these questions that you’ll want to ask your lender, from the Project On Student Debt.

The Project on Student Debt also provides a guide for people already repaying their student loans that covers what borrowers need to know about the changes that take place each July. Expect a new guide each year.

The Federal Trade Commission provides a guide to deceptive student lending offers and how to avoid them. (PDF)

Bankrate has some basic information about financing you education, including help comparing 529 plans if you’re saving for your child.

If you’re interested in consolidating your loans, check out the US Department of Education: Loan Consolidation site.

For those of you shopping for student loans, MyFICO has information about how it will affect your credit score.

Wondering about the deadline for turning in your FAFSA? Here’s a list of the federal and state deadlines.

(Photo:foundphotoslj)

Comments

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  1. WolfeBaazo says:

    This is a really useful article, especially with the times so tough for us students. Thanks!

  2. ReverseCarpetbagging says:

    Another great site is [www.graduateleverage.com] The guys that started this up came to my law school a few years back. A lot of my friends have used them for consolidation purposes and have been happy with the results. This may have changed with the fixed-rate Staffords, but worth checking out.

  3. QuantumRiff says:

    One big tip, I wish someone had told me. If all your student loans are through the same company, they can refuse to release them. I had all of mine through Educaid (Wachovia) and while my friends were consolidating their loans at 2.5% or so, I got about 6%. That was the best Wachovia would offer (it was an average of my 4 loans.) and I could not go to anyone else. I had contacted companies, gotten great quotes in that 2.5% range, and got told, oops, sorry, all your loans are with Wachovia. Please, just one term, switch the company you get the loans from. It can save you thousands!

    • CRNewsom says:

      @QuantumRiff: I do not understand this. Are you saying Wachovia wouldn’t let you pay off the loans early? Essentially what consolidation is doing is refinancing (paying one loan off with another, better terms loan).

    • mac-phisto says:

      @QuantumRiff: when exactly was this? i know the laws have changed greatly in the SL marketplace. at one time, your situation was common. i don’t believe lenders have “firsties” anymore.

      the reason i ask “when” is b/c student loan rates haven’t been in that range since i consolidated back in 2002. now i think most people are borrowing in the 7-10% range.

      • sponica says:

        @mac-phisto: the federal loan rates are now fixed at some ridiculously low interest rate for undergrad loans.

        • Thaddeus says:

          @sponica: For the 2009-2010 school year: 5.6% for sub, 6.8 for unsub…

        • mac-phisto says:

          @sponica: ??? unsubsidized staffords are at 6.8% right now. subsidized at ~6%. PLUS are in the 8-8.5% range. where are these ridiculously low rates you refer to?

          @QuantumRiff: i checked into it a little more: the single holder rule (the rule you refer to) was repealed in 2006. if you still have student loans out there, maybe you can still consolidate them…

  4. 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

    So I am somewhat confused about my student loans. I have most of my loans through Direct Loan (the government) which I consolidated through their program in November at like 7%, and a small loan through AES (I got through Bank of America) at some sort of variable rate tied to LIBOR.

    Is it possible to consolidate those loans (one large government one and a smaller private one) into one, lower fixed interest loan?

    • Anonymous says:

      @12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich: You can’t consolidate your private loans into a federal loan, and you generally shouldn’t borrow privately to pay off federal loans, since the federal ones have more protections (deferment, forbearance, income-based repayment…)

      Other good resources: NSLDS.ed.gov and ibrinfo.org

  5. hewhoroams says:

    Perfect timing thank you! I’m just now dealing with the finances for starting grad school this fall.
    Fatwallet also has a great thread on student loans which I remember using for consolidating my undergrad loans several years ago. I’m sure it’s still around for some additional financial information.

  6. momma_andrea says:

    One more resource if you have gotten a loan with a private lender in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) is your guarantor. Your school or NSLDS can tell you which guarantor you have. The guarantor basically guarantees the bank that they will get their loan money back. Essentially, the guarantor has to buy the loan back if you default. They also are supposed to keep watch over the lender to make sure they contact you like they are supposed to when you miss payments. Often, if you are having problems with your lender, the guarantor can work it a different way to get the situation resolved. A list of guarantors is available at [www.finaid.org]

    Also, if you are in default or getting, your guarantor can work with you to get your loan back in good standing. The guarantors often are more flexible than the original lenders in what they will accept.

  7. Etoiles says:

    What I wish I had known is that a state or state-recommended program can still be an unscrupulous private lender.

    I was 21 and thought that if the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was encouraging me to go through the MEFA program that it was better than shopping around to banks.

    Now I’m paying them an outrageous amount monthly, with interest rates that they jack around at will (I paid ON TIME and was not delinquent in any way, but they jacked my interest rate to 8.75%). And conveniently, every time I have called to talk with them about it, there’s either “nothing they can do” or they “accidentatlly dropped my call.” Mmm-hmm.

    And a private consolidation is a VERY hard thing to come by in 2008-2009.

    The Fed loans are still a good deal, though. My interest on those (consolidated) is now down to 2.25%.

  8. mb12333 says:

    is anyone able to find a fixed rate private student loan consolidation anymore? I haven’t been able to.

  9. bdsakx says:

    What’s all this I’m reading about 2-point-something interest rates on consolidated student loans? When I consolidated my Federal student loans I was given 6.25%. *sigh*

  10. kylere says:

    You missed [www.librarianchick.com] it rocks!

  11. Islandkiwi says:

    Any way to lower a consolidated federal student loan rate? It’s a terrible situation, I pay my loan every month, but the interest rate is frozen at around 7.5%. I’ll be paying off my loans forever at that rate.

    • stinerman says:

      @Islandkiwi:

      Not that I know of. You consolidated at a bad time, unfortunately.

      I suppose it might be possible to get a debt consolidation loan for that, but the rate probably won’t be much better and you’d lose your benefits.

      Lucky for me I haven’t consolidated yet and I’m probably going to be sub 3% after I do.

  12. lalaland13 says:

    I will be checking the links out, but I’m afraid there’s no hope for me. I consolidated my loans and currently pay way too much a month for Sallie Mae, which despite advertising “lower your loan payments!” all over the site, wouldn’t let me do such a thing. I think they gave me something about how I wasn’t eligible since I’d already done it once, or already consolidated. It was my fault for getting into the situation, though. Especially with a liberal arts degree. Although my state deregulating tuition just as I enter school didn’t help either.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am in the same boat. I had to consolidate when I graduated and they way Sallie Mae did it was to average the loan rates when they issued, not the current rate. They also didn’t send me a payment book until after the first payment was due, so no 1% on time deduction (couldn’t argue out of it). So I have been stuck paying 8.25% for the last 10 years. I would assume some bank would have loved to have my business at 6% or lower but I am barred because I already consolidated. I wish I had known about Direct Loans at the time but my school said Sallie Mae was their “lender” (little did I know it meant preferred lender, but I was desperate for the aid and didn’t know enough at the time to shop around). Oh well, guess I am stuck in student loan hell.

  13. ScottRose says:

    I came here looking for a list written across a large posterior and was sadly disappointed. When, o when will they deliver on their promises??

  14. Eleanor Rigby Goes Down says:

    I’m planning on starting graduate school in the fall, and I also plan on continuing my full time job while in school. My current income will cover my living expenses, and I’m planning on using student loans to cover the the cost of tuition and fees.

    Has anyone had any experience applying for federal loans for graduate? What is the criteria for receiving the loans, and how much can I expect to get?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Anyone have any experience with consolidation vs rehabilitation for loans in default?

    I have two loans right now, one in good standing the other in default, and I’m trying to get all the pros/cons on the table before I push on to try to get out of this mess.

  16. cecilpl says:

    Wow, that’s a really big ass-list!

    Sorry :)

  17. Stephanie Myers says:

    THANK YOU!!!! What a great source. This is the first year I’ll be applying for loans (great time to do it, huh?), and I really needed this info.

  18. T Renee Smith says:

    DON’T DO IT. Don’t borrow ANY money for school. It’s a huge mistake. Seriously, you have no idea what you’re in for. Take one class at a time if you have to, but these lenders are unscrupulous. You have no consumer protections if you take out a student loan. Find another way to get the money; that way, if you get sick or disabled or lose your job, you could go bankrupt if you had to. My loans have DOUBLED in 5 years and there is no end in sight. I keep paying, and they keep adding fees and interest and I’ve heard horror stories of people paying off their original amount but still owing more than their original amount! Please don’t do this to yourselves.

    • Thaddeus says:

      @T Renee Smith: I disagree. A well managed Stafford Loan can be of great benefit. However, if you are referring to private (aka alternative loans) I understand. They can balloon up when it comes to interest rates and penalties.

      The best advice would be to supplement out of pocket with as little loans as possible, such as subsidized Stafford and Perkins loans. Filing a FAFSA is the best place to start.

    • veronykah says:

      @T Renee Smith: I agree with you at least about the private loans. I’ve paid on mine for 3+ years and STILL owe more than I took out…these were full payments.
      I really wish I wouldn’t have taken them out but really didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I did it.
      It really should be required that they give you at least an ESTIMATE of what your payments will look like when you get out of school, that might have helped.

    • TropicalLogic says:

      @T Renee Smith: I disagree. A well managed and hard working student can absolutely pay it off. My boyfriend has put himself through five years of undergraduate work with only a $10,000 revolving line of credit – he worked through summer to pay it off so he could go to school the next year. And had a part time job to cover the yearly expenses. Now, he’s graduating, and will have very little undergraduate debt.

      ~

      That of course, is before he goes straight into a prestigious MBA that costs 40,000……

      But in his undergraduate he did well, and the MBA was a choice.

    • Dweeze says:

      @T Renee Smith: Can you point me to any type of loan anywhere where you don’t end up paying back more than you originally borrowed?

  19. T Renee Smith says:

    Check out studentloanjustice.com for some background and warnings.

  20. Thaddeus says:

    Glad to see something about filing a FAFSA. Do it now rather than later!

    http://www.fafsa.ed.gov FREE application for Fedearl Student Aid.

    DONT USE FAFSA dot COM (they will charge you)

    If you’re going in the spring only, FILE NOW as some deadlines for aid pass in the fall and if you file in the spring you’re SOL.

  21. Swearengen says:

    Why is it that when doing a consolidation loan, your new interest rate is based on the weighted averages of your existing loans. If I am essentially getting a new loan with a new company, why can’t I just get the lowest rate that is currently going? If I refinance a home I get the lowest rate going, why not the same for student loans?

  22. MercyEleusis says:

    You forgot to mention joining the military.

  23. mbz32190 says:

    How about avoiding Student Loans at all costs, if possible?
    -Not in college/haven’t been before? Start out at a community college, live at home, and keep working your old high school job for as long as you can. The cost is almost insignificant even compared to a year at a State-run college. Not to mention with the economy the way it is, I don’t think piling on more and more debt is a good idea, especially if you aren’t able to find a job to pay it off.

  24. EClaire says:

    Someone tell Daniel and Rufus Humphrey!