Whether you’re approaching the half-way mark for your time at Biola, just started the race, or are nearing you’re finish line, it is always a good time to think about loans and how we can handle them best. I know, it’s scary. But knowledge is our friend when it comes to this.
Taking out the loans:
- Taking out educational loans is quite normal and educational loans often have the lowest interest rates and best benefits, but try to think of it as a last resort. As much as you can, try to pay off your education without taking out a loan—get a part-time job, apply for scholarships/grants, etc. I feel like students avoid visiting Financial Aid, but why not just visit and find out if there is any extra funding available to you?
- If you're going to fund your education using borrowed money, do not use a credit card to pay for school (again, educational or private loans are a better route). Credit cards often have the highest interest rates, so you will end up paying way more in the long run. This is one of the many reasons Biola has stopped accepting credit cards for tuition payments, but we still see some people using the cash advance checks issued by credit card companies to pay for school.
- If you do decide to take out a loan and, as you are enrolling, find that you have more than enough to cover your school charges, instead of asking for a refund of the overage and spending it, contact Financial Aid and ask them to reduce the amount of your loan. It is nice to think you have some extra cash to spend during the semester, but you will kick yourself 8 years later when you're still paying it back. It's better to just have Financial Aid reduce the amount of your loan so that you owe less to the lender.
- Know who your loan servicing agencies are and keep your contact information up to date with them.
- Do not ignore emails, letters, and phone calls. Your school and loan servicing agencies are trying to provide you with important information.
- Plan ahead for when your loan enters into repayment. Late payments can effect your credit history, release of transcripts/diploma, and future enrollment.
- Ask if there are any deferment, cancellation, consolidation, or forgiveness benefits for your particular loan(s).
- If you're not sure about something, ask questions. We are here to help!
- You can see a list of your federal loans and servicing agencies at studentaid.gov (this is not a comprehensive list of all of your loans and does not include institutional or private loans).
The above information was provided by Leslie Behrns, Educational Loan Specialist and Jeni Kim, Loan & Collection Administrator. They are both in Biola's Student Account Services department. Their offices are located in Lower Level Metzger in Accounting. They offer office hours (Mon through Fri, 10:30-11:30am and 1:30-4:30pm) if students ever want to discuss loans, accounts, or financial management.