Students who graduated in May or June are nearing the end of the
six-month grace period. The first monthly loan payment is usually due
in November or December.
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Unfortunately, about a third of borrowers are late with the first
payment on their federal student loans. This is called a delinquency.
There are a variety of reasons why students are late with their loan
payments. Some may have forgotten about the loans or misplaced
paperwork in a recent move. Start-up expenses — such as the
security deposit on a new apartment, utility deposits, furnishing an
apartment, buying a new car and the cost of business attire —
may make it harder to afford the monthly loan payments at first. Some
borrowers may be unemployed, without the financial resources to repay
their student loans. Borrowers who consolidate their loans lose the
remainder of the grace period.
The payment is required even if you don't receive a statement or
coupon book from the lender.
You are required to provide the lender with your new address if
you move. If you don't tell the lender where to send the bill, it may
take months before the lender is able to locate you through skip
Interest continues to accrue on a loan when you are late with a
payment. Accrued but unpaid interest is added to the loan balance,
along with late fees, causing it to balloon.
To avoid missing loan payments, use a
student loan checklist
to keep track of all your loans.
(See Lost Your Lender?
if you've lost track of your loans.) Add a note to your calendar two weeks
before the first payment is due. If you haven't heard from the lender
by then, call the lender or visit the lender's web site to learn when
the first payment is due and where you should send the check.
Mail the payment at least a week before the due date to ensure that it
will arrive on time. Better yet, set up auto-debit to have the monthly
loan payments automatically transferred from your checking or savings
account. That way you'll be much less likely to be late with a
payment. (You can still be late on a payment with auto-debit if your
account has insufficient funds.)
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