It's likely I'll have to borrow every year to pay for my college expenses.
Planning ahead is essential to managing debt. If you plan to borrow each year you are in school, estimate the total amount you will borrow. Then use a sample loan repayment table to calculate how much you will have to pay each month. To decide how much to borrow, as a guide you can use the criteria lenders use when they consider an applicant's ability to repay. They expect that the total monthly payment for all debts should not exceed 8 percent of your gross monthly salary. So, check on your major as to the average starting salaries seen by recent graduates, estimate what living expenses will be like for you and the difference should be a good estimate of maximum borrowing you will want to stay below.
If I borrow from more than one loan program, I may have to pay several different lenders at the same time.
If you've borrowed from more than one type of loan program, you may be able to consolidate some of the loans and use one payment plan to repay the loans. In general, federal loans may be consolidated into one new loan at an interest rate of the weighted average of the original interest rates of the loans being consolidated. The length of the extension depends on the total amount of the loans consolidated. PLUS Loans are not eligible for consolidation.
Since approval of some non-need-based student loans and most parent loans is based upon credit history, you may want to order a credit report if you will need these loans to finance part of your education. Check the report closely for accuracy and resolve any erroneous information prior to applying for educational loans.
The following agencies can provide you with a credit report:
Equifax Credit Information Services: 800.685.1111
Trans Union Corporation: 770.396.7011