The 20 Most Googled Student Loan Questions
Updated On September 14, 2022
Editorial Note: This content is based solely on the author's opinions and is not provided, approved, endorsed or reviewed by any financial institution or partner.
When it comes to student loans, many people turn to Google for the answers.
Mentor analyzed Google search results to find the 20 most Googled student loan questions – and here are the results.
Here are answers to the 20 most Googled student loan questions:
1. How can I pay for college?
If you want to know how to pay for college, you have several options:
- Financial aid, including federal student loans
- Private student loans
- Scholarships and grants
- Financial support from parents or family members
- Your income from employment
- Money that you have saved
2. How do student loans work?
Student loans are an important part of paying for college and graduate school.
There are two types of student loans: federal student loans and private student loans. Federal student loans are issued by the federal government. Private student loans are issued by private lenders.
You can borrow student loans to pay for each semester, and student loans typically are disbursed by your school’s financial aid office.
When you borrow student loans, you are charged interest and that interest begins to accrue from the time your student loan is disbursed. You will have to pay back the principal balance that you borrowed, plus interest.
The standard student loan repayment plan is 10 years, although you can pay back your student loans earlier with no prepayment penalty. Most student loans have a six-month grace period, so you won’t have to begin to repay your student loans until six months after graduation.
After you earn your degree and meet other requirements, you may be able to refinance student loans to lower your interest rate and monthly payment.
Top Picks For Student Loan Refinancing
3. How do I consolidate student loans?
If you want to know how to consolidate student loans, the process is simple.
There are two types of student loan consolidation: federal student loans consolidation and private student loan consolidation.
Federal student loan consolidation: You can consolidate your federal student loans with the federal government. Once you consolidate your federal loans, you will have a Director Consolidation Loan.
The advantage of a Direct Consolidation Loan is that you will have a single student loan with a single, monthly student loan payment. Student loan consolidation is helpful as an organizational tool to combine your federal student loans.
The disadvantage of federal student loan consolidation is that you cannot lower your interest rate. Rather, with a Direct Consolidation Loan, the interest rate is equal to a weighted average of the interest rates on your current student loans, rounded up to the nearest 1/8%. To apply for student loan consolidation with the federal government, you can visit StudentLoans.gov.
Private student loan consolidation: If you want to lower the interest rate on your student loans, student loan refinancing may be a better tool for you.
Student loan refinancing is a form of student loan consolidation, and it is done with a private lender. To qualify, approval is based on your credit profile, income and other factors. With student loan refinancing, you apply directly with a private lender.
4. What is the best way to pay off student loans fast?
There are several ways to pay off student loans fast.
The standard repayment term for student loans is 10 years. However, you can pay off student loans anytime because there is no prepayment penalty.
Here are the best ways to pay off student loans quickly:
- Refinance student loans to lower your interest rate and save money
- Make an extra student loan payment to reduce your principal balance and save interest
- Increase your monthly payment
- Make a one-time, lump-sum payment to reduce your principal balance and save interest
If you want to pay off student loans faster, make sure to use student loan calculators to help you see how much money you can save with these various strategies.
5. How long does it take to pay off student loans?
The standard repayment plan for federal student loans is 10 years.
However, you can pay off student loans faster, since there is no prepayment penalty for student loans.
When you refinance student loans, you can typically choose a repayment plan between 5 and 20 years.
If you need to extend the repayment period for your federal student loans, you may qualify for income-driven repayment plans. An income-driven repayment plan can lower your monthly payment, and potentially help you qualify for student loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years.
6. Should I consolidate my student loans?
“Should I consolidate my student loans?” is a popular question. With student loan consolidation, you receive a new student loan, and use the proceeds to repay your current student loans.
If you consolidate student loans with the federal government, you can organize all your student loans into a single student loan and a single monthly payment. However, you won’t lower your interest or save money. In fact, it may cost your more money in the long run.
Student loan refinancing is a viable alternative that can simplify your student loans, help you receive a lower interest rate, lower your monthly payment and even release a co-signer from financial responsibility for your current student loans.
7. How can I pay student loans?
There are several ways how to pay student loans. When you borrow student loans, the standard repayment plan is 10 years.
Each month, you will need to make at least the minimum payment as specified by your student loan servicer. However, if you can make larger payments, you can pay off your student loans faster.
Don’t skip payments or submit late payments. Otherwise, you could owe additional interest and your credit score may be adversely impacted.
If you need help making your monthly payments, there are several student loan repayment options for you to consider when paying student loans:
- Student loan forbearance to pause your student loan payments
- Student loan deferment to pause your student loan payments
- Student loan forgiveness
- Income-driven repayment plans to lower your monthly student loan payments
- Increasing your income
- Lowering your monthly expenses
- Student loan refinancing to lower your interest rate
8. How much do I owe in student loans?
According to Mentor Money, there are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loans. The average student loan debt balance for a member of the Class of 2017 is nearly $40,000.
If you don’t know how much you owe in student loans, you’re not alone. You may have moved, changed your phone number or even have a new email address. If so, it’s possible you haven’t received you student loan statement or don’t have access to your online account.
Where can you find your student loan balance?
Federal Student Loans: If you want to check your federal student loans balance, you should check the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). The NSLDS is the U.S. Department of Education’s central database for student aid. Each loan servicer shares information on federal student loans with the NSLDS.
You will need your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID to login to view your student loan balance. Once you log into the NSLDS, you will see all the information related to your student loans, including your student loan balance, the type of student loans, when you borrowed your student loans, when you grace periods ends and much more.
Private Student Loans: For private student loans, the NSLDS will not have your student loan balance. This is because the NSLDS only contains information about federal student loans.
To find your private student loan balance, contact your student loan servicer. If you do not know the name of your student loan servicer, contact your lender. Your lender may be able to provide you the information you need or can connect with you your student loan servicer.
If you do not know the name of your lender, you can contact the financial aid office at your school. Your last option could be your credit report. A soft credit pull provides information about student loan debt, and a soft credit pull will not impact your credit score.
9. How do I get federal student loans?
When you borrow money for college or graduate school, your first source should be federal student loans. Federal student loans are issued by the U.S. Department of Education and come with certain borrower protections.
Direct Loans are the most common type of federal student loans and are for borrowers who enroll in school.
To apply for federal student loans, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Once you complete the FAFSA, you will be informed which federal student loans you qualify for and how much you can borrow. Then, your federal student loans are disbursed to you by your school.
10. How do I fill out FAFSA?
If you want to fill out the FAFSA, it’s an easier process than you may think.
Step 1: You can access the FAFSA at FAFSA.ed.gov.
Step 2: Create an account and get a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID number.
Step 3: Login with your FSA ID and complete the FAFSA. You will need your tax returns, and your parents’ tax returns, if you are applying as a dependent.
Step 4: Make sure to submit the FAFSA by the deadline.
11. How do I get out of student loan debt?
If you have student loan debt, you’re not alone. Mentor Money estimates that more than 44 million people have student loan debt that collectively totals $1.5 trillion.
If you want to get out of student loan debt, you have several options:
- Refinance student loans to lower your interest rate and save money on interest
- Earn more money
- Reduce your expenses
- Increase your monthly payment to reduce your student loan principal balance
- Make an extra student loan payment
- Make a one-time, lump-sum student loan payment
- Use student loan calculators to see how much you can save
12. How do I defer student loans?
When you repay your student loans, it’s possible that you may not be able to make your monthly payments.
One option is to defer student loans. When you defer student loans, you can pause payments on your student loans for up to three years.
How do you defer your student loans? Contact your student loan servicer to defer your student loans.
How do you qualify for student loan deferment? To qualify for student loan deferment, you will have to demonstrate financial hardship.
13. What does forbearance mean?
When it comes to student loan repayment, it’s possible that you may not be able to make your monthly payments.
One option is student loan forbearance. Student loan forbearance is available to those borrowers who do not meet the requirements for deferral.
Under forbearance, your student loan payments may be suspended or reduced for a period of up to 12 months. It is possible that interest may continue to accrue on your student loans during the forbearance period.
14. How long does it take to get a student loan?
There are different time periods and processes to get a federal student loan and a private student loan.
Time To Get A Federal Student Loan
Your first step to get a student loan is to file the FAFSA, which is for federal student loans. It can take up to three weeks to process your FAFSA, although often the time period is less.
After your FAFSA is processed, your financial aid office will determine your financial aid eligibility. Your financial aid office will prepare a financial aid package, which will detail the types of federal student loans and amounts for which you are eligible.
If you are a first-year student, you will typically receive this information in late March or early April. Your financial aid letter will include information about Direct Subsidized Loans, which are need-based student loans. Some schools also include information about Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans such as Parent PLUS Loans.
Once you agree to the federal student loans, you will sign a Master Promissory Note, which includes and terms and conditions of your federal student loans.
After you sign the Master Promissory Note, your school will disburse your student loans directly to you. Depending on when you sign your Master Promissory Note, it may take up to a few weeks for you to receive the funds from a federal student loan.
Time To Get A Private Student Loan
You can get private student loans directly from a lender. You can compare the best private student loans online and find the best one for you.
With private student loans, you can apply online and get your new interest rate in two minutes with no impact to your credit score.
Once you submit your application online, you can get approved for a private student loan in as soon as a few days to a few weeks. Once your loan is approved, the lender will send the loan proceeds to your school for final disbursement to you. This process can take up to several weeks.
Therefore, for the overall loan process from application to disbursement, it can take three to 10 weeks for you to receive a private student loan depending how quickly you submit your completed application and how quickly it is approved.
15. Can student loans be forgiven?
Yes, student loans can be forgiven.
For example, the federal government will forgive student loan debt in certain circumstances, depending on the type of student loan and the position of the borrower.
- Meeting the requirements of a qualifying income-driven repayment plan
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Perkins Loan Cancellation
- Permanent Disability or death
- Fraud or closure of your school
16. How do I get student loans out of default?
Student loan default occurs when you don’t make a student loan payment for at least 270 days.
It is a more serious situation than a delinquent student loan, which typically means you have not made a payment for at least 90 days.
If you find yourself in student loan default, there are several options you can pursue to get student loans out of default.
You could repay your student loan in full. You can contact your student loan servicer to assess the best way to rehabilitate your student loans. You could consolidate student loans.
If you find that your credit score has been impacted negatively, you could also begin the process to build credit through a secured credit card, for example.
17. Can I deduct student loan interest?
Yes, student loan interest is tax deductible.
You can write off student loan interest up to $2,500. There are certain qualifications that you must meet in order to claim the tax deduction. For example, you must have an eligible student loan that is used for education purposes and you may have to meet certain income qualifications.
You can speak with a qualified tax professional to assess your individual circumstances.
18. What is a Stafford Loan?
A Stafford Loan is a type of Direct Loan that is issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
To apply for a Stafford Loan, you must submit the FAFSA.
A Subsidized Stafford Loan means that you do not pay interest on your Stafford Loan while you are in school, and for a six-month grace period after you graduate.
19. What is a PLUS Loan?
A PLUS Loan is a type of student loan issued by the I.S. Department of Education.
A PLUS Loan is typically used in two types of circumstances. The first circumstance is when a borrower borrows a student loan for graduate school. The second circumstance is when a parent borrows a loan to pay for their child’s college expenses, which is referred to as a Parent PLUS Loan.
Unlike other federal student loans, PLUS Loans require a credit check for approval and typically carry a higher interest rate. The good news is that graduate PLUS Loans and Parent PLUS Loans can be refinanced, and you may qualify for a lower interest rate.
20. How do I pay off student loans faster with a calculator?
If you want to know how to pay off student loans faster with a calculator, make sure to use online student loan calculators to see how much money you can save.
There are several ways to pay off student loans faster, and here are some helpful student loan calculators to use: