Stages of a Student Loan
What to Expect While You're in School
As your student loan servicer, we at Nelnet are available 24/7 to make sure you have the best student loan experience possible. You don't need to do anything with your student loans while you're in school, so remain focused on your studies right now. Going forward, we're the folks who will answer your questions, discuss your payment plan options when the time comes, and eventually process your payments. We'll communicate with you via mail and e-mail when you need to know the latest about your loans, so please keep your mailing and e-mail addresses up to date at Nelnet.com and know that we look forward to helping you in any way we can.
Want to know more about your existing student loans? Log in to Nelnet.com to see the details on your loans serviced by Nelnet. To see if you have student loans with other servicers, log in to nslds.ed.gov. You'll need your PIN.
Working with Your School's Financial Aid Office
Once you've taken out a loan and entered school, we encourage you to meet with a financial aid counselor at your school to make sure you understand the financial aid your school awarded you. Student loans are a serious responsibility, and as with any loan, you are expected to pay it back on time, even if you don't graduate or find a job right away.
When your school determines your financial aid award (which includes scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans), it uses a standard budget to estimate your expenses, or your cost of attendance (COA). If you can reduce your expenses below the estimated COA, you may not need to borrow the entire amount of loans the school has awarded, saving you money in the long run.
Your school may have requirements in place to maintain your eligibility for financial aid. Often these requirements relate to academic performance, academic load, or credit on existing student loans. Make sure you understand your school's eligibility policy and can maintain it.
Tips for While You're in School
Create a Budget
Get an exact number of what tuition, room and board, books, and lab fees will cost you. Once scholarships and grants are applied, you'll need to either use saved money or borrow loans to fill in the gap. Never borrow more money than you can afford to pay back. Some student loans accrue interest while you are in school, and some do not. Consider paying any interest as it accrues to avoid paying a larger total over time. Use this calculator to determine how much money you'll need for school.
Stay Financially Fit
Develop healthy habits for a secure financial future with these resources from Nelnet. Find more financial literacy articles and tips on Facebook and Twitter!
Look for Free Money First
Always search for free money, like scholarships, grants, and work-study options, before taking out student loans.
Depending on your field of study or level of athleticism, you may qualify for an academic or sports scholarship at your school. Many scholarships are also available from sources other than your school. Check out state offerings, local community groups, essay contests, and online scholarship searches. The criteria vary; some are even awarded based on heritage, hair color, and hobbies.
Grants are offered by the Department of Education and by some states and schools to students who fit certain criteria and in most cases don't have to be paid back, so look into these options when considering all of your financial aid options.
Reapply for the FAFSA
Each year that you plan to take classes, you will need to resubmit the FAFSA. Filing online makes it easy to adjust your financial information and resubmit. Learn more about the FAFSA.
Get Ahead on Payments
Some borrowers choose to make interest-only payments on their unsubsidized student loans while in school—you are encouraged to do so if you can, as this will lower your overall balance and maybe even shorten your loan term. Log in to make a payment.
Leaving School Early
If you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment status, you will enter a six-month grace period (for students with Stafford loans) or deferment (for graduate and professional students with GradPLUS loans) before paying back your loans—and Nelnet will be there to help you through the process of getting ready to start making payments.