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Shortly after the mortarboards are tossed in the air, graduates will begin paying off those school loans. The March issue of ABA’s Student Lawyer suggests that students should start preparing before graduation. In part three of a four part series, Heather Jarvis sets out a handy timeline for graduation students: Three Months Before Graduation : Try to limit your post-graduation / pre-employment debt (i.e. bar exam expenses) because federal student loans are not available for these types of debt. Two Months Before Graduation : Collect all of your loan information. For many this can be quite an extensive list. You can find a complete listing of all of your federal student loan debt at the National Student Loan Data System. If you have private loans, you might request a copy of your credit report to find a list of all your creditors. Make sure to calendar all of your first payment dates. Different loans will have different grace periods, so you’ll need to take care. One Month Before Graduation : Update your contact information with all of your loans. Within a month or two of graduation : Consider consolidation of your student loans and evaluate your repayment schedule. Consolidating your loans may make it easier to keep track by limiting the number of lenders. You may also be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Some repayment options you may want to consider are: Pay As You Earn and Income Based Repayment (where your payments are capped at 10% or 15% of discretionary income) and Graduated Repayment Plan (where your payments gradually increase, as, hopefully, your income increases). Four or Five Months After Graduation : Submit the necessary documents to confirm your chosen repayment plan. Remember that consolidation ends your grace period(s). Once a Year : Reevaluate your loan repayment strategy. You can change many repayment plans and make additional payments without being penalized. Often times, you can also temporarily postpone payments if you are having financial troubles. For more information on student loans, take a look at some of these titles available at the Trial Court Law Libraries.

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