I got this email the other day from a classmate who just graduated concerning her student loans. And, though not all of us may be confronting this right now, we'll likely be doing so in the near future. Her info seemed pretty well researched, so I thought I'd share it with you all:
For those of you who have taken out loans as a consequence of attending law school, I am volunteering some information. If you don't have loans disregard this email.
1. You may not have received any loan payment notices because the school has mistakenly assigned a graduation date of 2013 to all law students for all loan purposes. The law school financial aid office said it is an error by the undergrad financial aid office. They are "looking into it." According to the Direct Loans (Federal) customer service department at 1-800-848-0979, payments for Direct Loans would normally commence June 21, 2008. However, due to the school error, payment notices have not been sent. Although many of us would love to have a 5 year grace period on our loans, I am not counting on the school's mistake to cover my loan liability. In addition, even if the loans are magically deferred, the interest is not (see #2.)
2. Economic hardship: for those of you who are not currently working and need additional time before making Direct Loan payments, you can request up to a 12 month deferment. You can go to www.dlservicer. ed.gov in order to download the form or call the number above in order to have one mailed. You can also see a summary of your Direct Loans and a payment schedule. In addition to asking for an economic hardship deferment, you can also request the loan to be extended in order to lower monthly payment. The loan is automatically set up as a ten year payment plan.
Note: automatic deferment can vary depending on whether you consolidated during school or not?
Another note: keep in mind that at any time during the life of any of your loans, you can call and ask for special consideration/ deferment/ lowered payments for any reason. Most loan providers would rather have some payment arrangement, than have someone default on their loan. It is up to the provider to give special consideration, etc. It is wise to ask before you fall behind!
3. Another helpful website is www.nslds.ed. gov. You can see an overview of all Direct Loans (including Plus Loans) and Standford Loans.
4. For those of you with private loans, the Access Group phone number is 1-800-282-1550. According to Access's customer service department, the private loans are automatically set up as 20 year loans (I imagine their interest is in raking in more interest, rather than in graciously lowering our monthly payments) and the private loans will automatically be deferred for 9 months from our date of graduation. Note: you may have private loans with a different provider, Access Group is just one of many.
5. A helpful resource is The Graduate Leverage Team, 1-877-844-9580 www.graduateleverage.com. They can give advice on consolidation, etc. Apparently, there is going to be a significant drop in interest rates in July (see their website for details.)
6. If you move, remember to update your address information for every loan provider. If your deferment ends/payments start and the providers do not have your current address you could decrease your credit score by missing payments.
Law School Survivor