Managing loans in the real world

Last issue, The Hatchet looked at ways to secure a credit card, even with less-than-perfect credit. In the third installment of the personal finance series, professor of finance Neil Cohen explains four ways to reduce loan costs and make sure you have got a loan that will work for you.

Cohen stresses that loan management after college has to utilize a plan based off income, living expense, savings, and loan repayment.

Know the details

“Loans can be complex,” Cohen says. Often times, students overlook the fine print when reading the details of a loan. Most students are simply concerned with the interest rate or monthly payments, but Cohen says students should know all the details, including what fees and penalties the loan may carry.

Organize scenarios

It is essential for students to keep all their loan information in one area. Using an Excel spreadsheet can help, Cohen says. A standard loan scenario demonstrates the payment of a loan according to the intended maturity date. Another scenario includes paying the loan off earlier.

Compare everything

Cohen says, “With current low interest rates, the right question to ask is always ‘Compared to what?’ Make sure to compare different loan programs in all aspects. The smallest differences in loans can actually be quite impacting.”

Recognize the grace period

The Federal Student Aid Web site advises that after graduation, students should be aware of their grace period – a period of time before beginning repayment. For a Federal Stafford Loan, this grace period lasts six months. For Federal Perkins Loans, this grace period lasts nine months.

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