Smart steps you can take to finance your college education with student loans
Waubonsee Community College and the Financial Aid Office care about your financial well-being during your time in college—and after. It's not too early to think about life after college, because unlike other types of financial aid, loans must be paid back.
After leaving school, some students have difficulty making monthly loan payments while also paying other expenses like rent and car payments. As a result, individuals can become delinquent on payments or default on student loans. A student loan default adversely affects your credit rating, can result in the garnishment of wages and/or tax refunds, and prohibits you from receiving future federal and state financial aid. Keep in mind that student loan debt cannot be forgiven through bankruptcy.
Steps to Smart Borrowing
To avoid potential negative outcomes, the Financial Aid Office recommends Smart Borrowing, which includes a variety of steps you can take.
- Only borrow the amount that you need for a year of school. Develop a budget for each academic year that includes all of your expenses and resources. Expenses include tuition and fees, books, living expenses, personal expenses and transportation. Personal expenses should be limited to essential items only. Resources include employment, savings, assistance from family and financial aid. The difference between total expenses and resources will be the maximum amount you should consider borrowing.
- Learn about available repayment plans.
- Compare monthly loan payments to expected earnings. Calculate the total amount you could borrow to complete your educational goal based on the annual loan limits. Determine the monthly payments on your expected total loan using the Repayment Estimator at studentloans.gov, and then compare those loan payments with the expected earnings for your chosen major.
- Know how to contact your loan servicer and keep your servicer informed of any changes to address/phone number. The loan service is part of your loan history in the National Student Loan Data System.
- If you take unsubsidized loans (in which financial need does not need to be demonstrated), consider making interest payments on these loans. This will prevent the interest from being capitalized, which increases your principal balance. Contact your loan servicer to find out the amount of accrued interest and about making payments while still in school.
- Monitor your cumulative loan balance by checking the National Student Loan Data System at least annually.
- Before you leave Waubonsee, participate in an Exit Interview. Exit Interview notices are sent to graduating students prior to the end of each semester.
There are additional resources you can use to manage your finances and borrowing.