Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Financial Corner: Student Loans 101

If student loans make you groan, you’re not alone. But student loans don’t have to be complicated.

Start with the FAFSA
Everyone, whether you think you’re eligible for funding or not, should fill out a FAFSA form every year. The FAFSA will go live in December for the 2024-2025 academic year.

Need help filling out the FAFSA? Start here.

Plan for funds available
Once you’ve completed the FAFSA form, you will have an idea of what scholarships, grants and federal aid is available to you. Take advantage of these offers, using private loans to fill the gap.

Only borrow what you need for academic expenses. Don’t borrow extra for “spending” money because that will have to be paid back with interest.

Be aware of loan limits and plan accordingly. The federal government and most private lenders limit the total amount that can be borrowed in a student’s lifetime.

Know your deadlines
Apply for aid at least a month before you need it. Many lenders, and especially the federal government, need time to process applications. So don’t wait until the last minute.

Take your time
But give yourself enough time to read through the documents you receive when applying for loans. Ask questions if you have them.

Get acquainted with interest
Understand how the interest works on your loan. Think about:

  • Fixed versus variable rates
  • When/how interest accrues
  • How repayment works (ex: will payments go to interest first and then principal?)

Try to avoid private loans with compounding interest as it’s hard to keep up and pay on the principal.

Start paying your interest right now
Make interest payments on your student loans while you’re in school. Even just $25 a month can make repaying student loans after graduation more manageable.

Also, once in repayment mode, try to pay extra whenever possible to get ahead of interest.

Build credit
Start building your credit early and safely. Many students want to refinance loans after graduation but don’t meet the credit history requirements since they’ve only had student loans. Taking out a reserve line of credit or a student credit card is a safe and effective way to build healthy credit.

Candice Wagner is a senior content writer with the UW Credit Union.

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