LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas college students are in the early stages of preparing for the school year in August and some are applying for student loans. It is important to always read the fine print and be cautious of scammers trying to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. There are some key items that every student should know before agreeing to a loan that often takes decades to repay.
“A student loan should be a short-time obligation to give students an opportunity to be successful,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Unfortunately, these loans are too often carried over for decades and hold our best and brightest back from making investments or taking risks as entrepreneurs.”
Attorney General Rutledge has provided the following tips for students considering taking out a student loan:
Make sure you understand your loan. Before taking out a loan, make sure you understand the repayment terms and other obligations of the loan, interest rates and how they will be applied to the loan, and where to find your balance and payment schedule after you graduate. For federal loans, visit the National Student Loan Data System (nslds.ed.gov).
Take advantage of the grace period. Oftentimes, there is a grace period after you graduate or stop attending a college or university. It is important to know how long the grace period is and whether interest will be charged during the grace period. Grace periods allow you to get your “feet on the ground” while making a plan to repay the loan.
Know your re-payment options. Every loan is different and some offer the chance to change payment options based on your income rather than a set monthly amount. In some cases, if you are going through a financial hardship, there is the ability to temporarily defer payments.
Be wary of loan consolidation and refinance offers. Many companies offer loan refinance options, but may not provide the promised service or might provide services that consumers can access for no cost. Consumers should learn all details about any loan refinance offer before enrolling in one.
Check your credit report to see all of your education debts, including federal and private student loans.
Consider part-time work, work-study, and all scholarships available to limit student debt to as little as possible.
For more information, the Arkansas Student Loan Authority can be contacted here or at 800-443-6030 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.