And Current Students with Prior Loans
After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you have a period of time before you have to begin repayment. This "grace period" will be:
- Six months for a Federal (FFEL) or Direct Stafford Loan
- Nine months for Federal Perkins Loans
- 12 months for CIM Institutional Loan
PLUS Loans don't have a grace period. However, Graduate PLUS Loans will generally follow the same 6 month grace as the Stafford Loan, but you may need to follow up with your servicer if that is not happening. Parent PLUS Loan borrowers will need to submit an in-school deferment form so their repayment can be delayed until the student the loans were for is no longer enrolled at least half time (see form below).
Get Your Federal Loan Information
The U.S. Department of Education's National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) allows you to access information on loan and/or federal grant amounts, your loan status (including outstanding balances), and disbursements made. Go to www.nslds.ed.gov. Your federal PIN used for the FAFSA will grant you access to your record. Here is where you can see who is servicing your loan(s) and where you can find the contact information for each. This is a site that any Stafford and/or PLUS borrower should become familiar.
For Direct Stafford and/or PLUS Loans
If you have questions about your Direct Loans, you can go online to find the answers. As of 7/1/10, all schools are now fully Direct Loan and none are FFEL. Loans that used to be in the FFEL program have all been forwarded to one of the federal loan servicers. A list of all federal loan servicers is found here: https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/additionalInformation.action. As soon as new loans are disbursed, they automatically get funneled to one of those servicers, who should then be contacting the borrower. Due to the timing of batch processing between your school, Direct Loans and your eventual servicer, it may take 1-3 months for the loan data to reach your final servicer and for them to contact you.
As noted above, you can log into www.nslds.ed.gov to see where your loans are being serviced now. Also, studentloans.gov is a great source of information about loans and includes a link directly to NSLDS. There, you can find all relevant information regarding repayment options, as well as deferments, forbearances, etc.
- Help with Direct Loan Exit Counseling - You can do this process as often as you wish, see Federal Direct Loan instructions (PDF) for more details
- Direct Loan (applicable for Stafford, Graduate PLUS & Parent PLUS loans) Direct Loan Deferment Form (PDF)
- Parent PLUS (if your son/daughter is still enrolled at least half time) Parent PLUS Borrower Deferment Request Form (PDF)
For Perkins Loans
If you had a Federal Perkins Loan while attending CIM, please contact the servicer, Campus Partners, at 1-800-334-8609 or www.mycampusloan.com for information about payments, deferments, address changes, etc. If you had a Perkins loan at another school, send any completed deferment paperwork to that school, not CIM. If you graduated or left CIM any time after March, 2013, your online Perkins Loan Exit Counseling is done via www.mycampusloan.com. A visual help guide for this process is available.
- Perkins Loan Deferment Form (PDF). Note the mailing address of Campus Partners is only applicable to Perkins Loans from CIM; other schools may have a different servicer.
For CIM Loans
If you had a CIM Institutional Loan while attending CIM, please contact the servicer, Campus Partners, at 1-800-334-8609 or www.mycampusloan.com for information about payments, deferments, address changes, etc.
For Private or Alternative Loans
If you had any non-Federal private loans, they will not appear on your NSLDS loan history and generally are not included in the Loan Exit Counseling you received when you left school. You need to contact the lender/guarantor directly for information about these loans.
If you default, it means you failed to make payments on your student loan according to the terms of your promissory note, the binding legal document you signed at the time you took out your loan. In other words, you failed to make your loan payments as scheduled. Your school, the financial institution that made or owns your loan, your loan guarantor, and the federal government all can take action to recover the money you owe. Here are some consequences of default:
- National credit bureaus can be notified of your default, which will harm your credit rating, making it hard to buy a car or a house.
- You would be ineligible for additional federal student aid if you decided to return to school.
- Loan payments can be deducted from your paycheck.
- State and Federal income tax refunds can be withheld and applied toward the amount you owe.
- You will have to pay late fees and collection costs on top of what you already owe.
- You can be sued.
Obviously, you don't want to let your loan go into default. However, should this happen, find out what options are available. Read the Guide for Defaulted Borrowers provided by the government to find comprehensive information developed by the Department of Education's FSA Collections section. Clicking on various tabs within that publication will give you information about how to remove your loan from default, what to do if you have a dispute about your loan's default status, and how to get answers to questions you might have.
The Ombudsman Office is a final resource after borrowers seek resolution through other customer service avenues. For dispute resolution regarding Federal Student Loans, contact:
Office of the Ombudsman
Phone: 1-877-557-2575 (Toll Free) (Best used to initiate a Case)
Phone: 202-377-3800 (Toll) Washington DC
Web Address: https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/disputes/prepare/contact-ombudsman
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Written correspondence can be addressed to:
Office of the Ombudsman, OFSA
U.S. Department of Education
Fourth Floor. UCP-3/MS 5133
830 First Street NE
Washington, DC 20202-5144
When contacting the Ombudsman Office, be ready to:
- Identify the problem and the reason behind it.
- Define expectations.
- Describe actions already taken to resolve the problem.
- Supply documentation to support your position.
Please also see the Links & Forms page as there are additional websites there you may find helpful. Many of those sites are applicable to both current and former students.