Students often need to borrow a loan to afford a postsecondary education. As a borrower, it is imperative to know the student loan rights and responsibilities. There are multiple repayment options and loan forgiveness programs. A student should always contact his/her loan servicer if experiencing difficulties.

Exit Counseling

Each student who borrowed a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan or a Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan while attending Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and either graduated or dropped below half-time enrollment status must complete an Exit Interview on the Federal Student Loan website. Borrowers are also strongly encouraged to visit the Financial Aid Office for an individual discussion with the financial aid director.

Federal Student Loan Consolidation

If the student has multiple federal student loans, a consolidation loan may simplify the repayment by allowing the borrower to combine all the federal loans into a single consolidated loan with one monthly payment. Loans which can be consolidated are Federal Stafford (older bank-based) Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, and Federal Graduate PLUS Loans. A Parent PLUS loan can be consolidated with other PLUS loans, but not with student loans. There is no application fee to consolidate. If a borrower is contacted by someone offering to consolidate loans, confirm that the company is one of the authorized U.S.. Department of Education's (ED) loan servicers.

Consolidation may lower monthly payments and provide access to alternative repayment plans. Compare current monthly payments to the consolidated payment because if  the length of the repayment period increases, interest will also increase.

To be eligible to consolidate, a borrower must graduate, leave school, or drop below less than half time. The borrower must have at least one federal loan that is in a grace period or repayment. If any loan is in default, satisfactory repayment arrangements must be agreed upon with the current loan servicer before consolidating or the borrower can agree to repay the new consolidation loan with an alternative plan, such as Income-Based Repayment Plan. An existing consolidation loan cannot be re-consolidated unless it includes an additional federal loan in the consolidation. Loans may be prepaid at any time without penalty.

Learn more about budgeting and managing debt at www.igrad.com.