September 15, 2011

3 Student Loan Tips for Transfer Students

Transferring schools can create unique circumstances for student loan borrowers. If you changed schools this semester, do these 3 things today to ensure your loans still make the grade:

1. Check Your Student Account

Make sure your school processed your financial aid by checking your student account at the very beginning of the school year. Your student loans will be posted there once you’ve accepted your financial aid package and your funds have been disbursed.

Depending on your school, you may be able to do this online, or you may have to call your financial aid office to get this information. Make sure your account is squared away as soon as possible, since some schools charge a fee if tuition is paid late.

You should also know that the financial aid you received at your old school will not transfer to your new school, even if you transfer mid-year. Make sure you apply for financial aid at your new school and know their deadlines for these applications.

2. Find Out if Your Loan Payments Are Due

When you transferred, you officially withdrew from your previous school. Since that may have triggered your loan holder to list you as below half-time enrollment, payment for the loans you took out while you were there could be due soon. They may even be due already, and there are serious consequences for missing payments.

Don’t worry. If you’re in your new school at least half time, you’re eligible for in-school deferment on your federal student loans. This deferment postpones payment of your federal loans until after you’re out of school or drop below half-time enrollment. Just provide your loan servicer with proof that you are in school more than half time, and they will tell you how to defer your loans.

You can check whether your federal student loans are currently postponed or in repayment or grace with the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®)—the U.S. Department of Education’s central database for federal student aid records. Your private loan data is not in available on NSLDS, but you can get a free annual credit report to confirm your private loan information.

Check out our repayment checklists for more information.

3. Know Your New School’s Rules

Your new school may have different standards than your old one—especially when it comes to half-time enrollment. Being enrolled less than half time can automatically end your in-school deferments, so ask your financial aid office how many classes you need to take each semester.

Also, dropping a class can impact your student loans because your financial aid package is based on the number of credit hours you’re carrying. Typically you can receive a full refund for a class if you drop it on or before the last day of the add/drop period. Your registrar’s office can tell you the dates for your school’s add/drop period.

If you drop a class after the add/drop period, you may not be able to return the financial aid you received without penalty. Before dropping a class, check with your financial aid office to determine whether it will impact your financial aid.