Finances are often a struggle for new college graduates, but with the economy in a freefall and concern about job prospects mounting, this year’s graduates may be facing even tougher financial headwinds.
To ease concerns, representatives from PSECU and the Shippensburg University Financial Aid Office are available to help students navigate through potential problems post-graduation.
Melinda Kasper, SU Financial Aid Office associate director, offered tips for soon-to-be graduates.
She recommended students remain organized and proactive in repaying loans. Students should reach out to their specific loan officer for personalized information, Kasper said.
To find out one’s federal loan servicer and federal loan balance, visit myfedloan.org, with the student’s FSA ID and password.
According to Kasper, the Department of Education announced federal student loan borrowers, who are in repayment, are being placed in “administrative forbearance.” This allows borrowers to temporarily stop monthly payments until Sept. 30.
She also noted that between March 13 and Sept. 30, the interest rate on student loans is 0%. More information is available on the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website.
Kasper said students must not let their loans default, as this impacts their credit score. She encouraged students to research their options for repayment and deferment.
According to Federal Student Aid, most federal student loan repayments begin six months after graduation. However, private loans may require repayment more quickly. While it varies loan-to-loan, these payments, along with other financial responsibilities and figuring out how to split a weekly or bi-weekly paycheck, can be difficult.
The website explained key differences between federal and private loans. Federal loans typically have fixed interest rates that are lower than private loans. Private loans have varying interest rates.
In Now What? Repaying Your Student Loans, PSECU encourages students to follow three steps: Know what is owed, figure out repayment terms and make a plan.
If a graduate is unsure of how much they owe and where they owe it, PSECU said to check with the university’s financial aid office or studentaid.gov for information about federal loans. For private loans, it recommends checking with the financial aid office, through the student’s personal records or through a credit report. Everyone is given one free credit report a year at www.annualcreditreport.com. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also offers private student loan information.
Graduates should be aware of their repayment terms and their deferment options.
The responsibility is on the borrower to learn and understand the terms and conditions, according to PSECU.
PSECU also says graduates need to keep their plans to repay student loans realistic. Making on-time payments is vital to building a healthy credit score. Missed payments can negatively impact credit scores which can create problems when purchasing a car, house or even applying for a loan or a credit card.
PSECU said it is important to figure out a budget that understands the cost of living and true income after deductions. Graduates need to stick to the budget, periodically reviewing and adjusting as their financial situation changes.
Allison Wallace, PSECU SU Financial Education Center community manager, said budgeting is one of the most important skills new graduates must master. She offered these tips for successful budgeting:
- Know Your Financial Goals
- Make a Realistic Plan
- See Where You Can Make Cuts
- Consider Saving and Long-term Planning (If you can at this time)
- Periodically Review Your Plan and Priorities
PSECU has resources including blog posts, recorded presentations and a free online learning center.