Ah, the ‘90s. A time when Will Smith was known as a rapper, Backstreet was the street we all wanted to follow and AOL was king. But ‘90s music isn’t just for reliving those nostalgic days or “Gettin’ Jiggy With It.” You didn’t know it at the time, but the worldly truths found in these four timeless '90s classics can help you navigate the student loan process a little better.
1) All the Small Things
Blink-182 taught us it’s truly the small things that count. Remember that financial aid award letter you received when you were oh-so-excited about attending school? What about that lovely fine print above your signature on your promissory* note?(*A real word, I promise.) If you didn’t pay as close attention to the letter as you did to the drummer’s sweet tattoos, it’s not too late to get all the information you need help smooth out post-grad life.
Firstly, keep track of all your loans.
Unfortunately, tracking private loans can be a little tricky. Reach out to all of your lenders to make sure you have your information. You can even run a free credit check to make sure you aren’t missing anything.
For federal loans, visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to see your loan type, how many you have, and how much interest you owe to date. Enter your FASFA pin to gain access.
Secondly, make sure your information is up-to-date. Don’t overlook something as simple as which address your lender has on record. Will your loan bill be going to you, your parents while they’re on vacation, or to your old college mailbox? Make sure your lender has your most up-to-date information.
2) Bills, Bills, Bills
Think of your private lender as being like Destiny’s Child in the '90s. They don’t care if you’re broke after graduating and job searching. All your lender wants to know is, “Can you pay my bills?”
Avoid being that “good-for-nothing type of” borrower by knowing what payment options are available to you.
If you have federal loans, you can qualify for deferments if you’re unemployed, or income based repayment (IBR) if you need lower payments based on your monthly paycheck. Private lenders aren’t nearly as flexible, but unlike Beyoncé, they won’t just dump you if can’t pay up. They may require you to pay the entire loan after a few missed payments. This is one relationship you can’t skip out on. You can’t discharge your student loans through bankruptcy. Find out more here.
Over at Young Invincibles, we’re trying to tell Congress about some of the issues many are facing with private loans. Meanwhile, if you think your private lender is treating you unfairly, you can submit a complaint here to the new agency created to protect consumers, the CFPB.
3) Mo' Money, Mo' Problems
Yep, Biggie had it right. The more money you come across, the more problems you can see. If you’re still in college, only borrow what you need. Keep in mind that you will have to pay that money back, with interest. If you’re having trouble paying your loan, let your lender know immediately. If possible, make payments on your higher interest loans first. And don’t let your problems stack up.
4) You Oughta Know
As Alanis Morissette so eloquently crooned, life isn’t fair. In the face of heartbreak and a messy break up, Alanis wasn’t afraid of the truth (or really long hair).
And just like a bitter break up, the truth about your student loans may not always be pretty. But being afraid of the intimate details of your loan won’t make you’re student debt go away. When it comes to student loans you need to know exactly what you’re dealing with. Get to know your interest rates, repayment terms and options, and penalties you might incur for paying late.
A version of this article originally appeared at the Young Invincibles blog.