Preparing for Graduation

As graduation draws closer, you might be thinking about everything from loan repayment to loan consolidation.  Below is information on these topics and more that will help you make a smooth transition from a student to a graduate.

Stafford/Graduate PLUS Loan Exit Counseling

Federal regulations require that students who borrowed through the Federal Stafford Loan Program and/or the Federal Graduate PLUS Loan Program and who are going to graduate or who will no longer be enrolled on at least a half-time basis (6 credits minimum for J.D. students; 3 credits minimum for Graduate Tax students) must complete Exit Counseling. 

You can complete this requirement online at your convenience by going to studentloans.gov.  You will need your FAFSA pin to sign in.  Signing in will enable you to view your federal student loan data available at the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), notify schools of counseling completion and save proof of counseling completion. Your personal portfolio of federal loans from NSLDS will be integrated into the session and you may also include any private loans you may have taken out. This will provide you with a more relevant, personal picture of your outstanding loans and repayment amounts.      

Before beginning the exit counseling process online (which should take you approximately 30 minutes), make sure you have the following information on hand:

1.Your FAFSA pin number – this is necessary to access this site 
2.Villanova Law School OPEID number - 00338801 
3.Your social security number and your driver’s license number 
4.If applicable, the name, address, telephone number and employer for your spouse 
5.Name, address and telephone number of  your next of kin (parent, relative) 
6.Name, address, and telephone number of your expected employer when you graduate 
7.Name, address, telephone number and employer of two references (cannot be the same as your next of kin)
  
If at any time you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Financial Aid by calling 610-519-7015 or emailing the office at finaid@law.villanova.edu.

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Loan Repayment

Once you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time enrollment status, then you will have to start repaying your student loans after a period of time known as a grace period. The Federal Stafford Loan has a grace period of six months, and the Federal Perkins Loan has a grace period of nine months. Direct and FFEL PLUS loans do not have a grace period.  However,  graduate and professional student borrowers with Direct and FFEL PLUS loans that were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008 receive an automatic deferment while in school and a 6-month deferment after they graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, which is comparable to a grace period .  Graduate and professional student borrowers will start making payments not more than 60 days after their last deferment ends. 

There are several Federal Loan Repayment Plans that are available to you.  Most Federal loans default to the Standard Repayment Plan, but you can choose an alternate plan below that best meets your needs.  When reviewing the repayment plans below, please be aware that the longer you take to repay your loans, the more you will pay for your loan because you are paying more interest.  Also, keep in mind that you can prepay your Stafford Loans and Graduate PLUS Loans at any time without penalty.

For more information on the repayment plans, as well as how to calculate your estimated repayment amount under each plan, please visit the Repayment Plans and Calculators  section of the Federal Student Aid’s website.

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Repayment Plans

Standard Repayment

  • Payments are fixed with a $50 monthly minimum
  • Maximum repayment period of 10 years
     

Graduated Repayment

  • Payments start low, then increase every two years 
  • Maximum repayment period of 10 years
  • Payments must be at least equal to monthly interest due
  • No single payment will be more than 3 times greater than any other payment
     

Extended Repayment

  • Payments can be fixed 
  • Maximum repayment period of 25 years 
  • You must have more than $30,000 in Direct Loan or FFEL Loan debt
  • You must be a new borrower as of October 7, 1998
  • Payments of $50 or more
     

Extended Graduated Repayment

  • Payments start low, then increase every 2 years
  • Maximum repayment period of 25 years
  • You must have more than $30,000 in Direct Loan or FFEL loan debt
  • You must be a new borrower as of October 7, 1998
  • Payments must be at least equal to monthly interest due
  • No single payment will be more than 3 times greater than other payment

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Income Driven Repayment Plans

Pay As You Earn

  • Based on your income, and generally offers the lowest monthly payments of the income –driven plans
  • Available to some Direct Loan borrowers whose federal student loan debt is high relative to their income 
  • Annually adjusted payment, based on annual income and family size\
  • Payment is 10% of your discretionary income and will never be more than the 10-year standard repayment amount
  • After 20 years of qualifying repayment, any unpaid amount will be forgiven
  • For more information about Pay as You Earn, visit StudentAid.gov
     

Income-Based Repayment

Consider IBR if you owe more in federal student loans than you make in a year in income, or need to make lower monthly payments.  You may qualify for IBR if your federal student loan debt is high relative to your income.

  • Annually adjusted payment, based on annual income and family size
  • Payment is 15% of your discretionary income and will never be more than the 10-year standard repayment amount 
  • After 25 years of qualifying repayment, and unpaid amount will be forgiven
  • For more information, please visit StudentAid.gov  or read the Department of Education’s IBR Fact Sheet.
  • Newest repayment plan effective July 1, 2009, for students with a financial hardship 
  • Payments are fixed and the amount is calculated yearly based on 15% of the difference between your adjusted gross income and 150% of the Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines according to your family size 
  • Maximum repayment period may exceed 10 years 
  • Unpaid loans after 25 years may be cancelled if you meet certain other requirements
     

Income-Contingent Repayment (for Direct Loans only)

  • If you need to make lower Direct Loan payments that are tied to your income, but you do not qualify for IBR or Pay as You Earn
  • Annually adjusted payment, based on annual income and family size
  • Payment will not exceed the lesser of: What you would pay on a 12 year standard repayment plan multiplied by a factor that is based on your income: or 20% of discretionary income
  • Payments are fixed and the amount is calculated yearly based on your adjusted gross income (and your spouse’s income if married) , family size and total amount of your Direct Loans 
  • After 25 years of qualifying repayment, any unpaid amount will be forgiven
  • For more information about Income Contingent Repayment, visit StudentAid.gov
     

Income-Sensitive Repayment (for FFEL Loans only)

  • Payments are based on your annual income
  • Maximum repayment period is 10 years

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Loan Consolidation

Loan consolidation will allow you to combine your Federal student loans into a single loan so you can have just one monthly payment.  A consolidated loan has a maximum repayment period of 30 years with a fixed interest rate.  The interest rate is based on the weighted average of the interest rates on your loans at the time you consolidate them, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent not to exceed 8.25 percent.

If you want to see how many Federal loans you have or if you do not know who your lender or loan servicer is, then you can obtain this information on the U.S. Department of Education’s National Student Data System (NSLDS) at www.nslds.ed.gov.  Here you will also be able to access your Federal loan history, and you can view such items as your loan statuses, outstanding balances, loan amounts and disbursement records.

You are eligible to consolidate your Federal loans once you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time enrollment status.  Your loan must be in grace, repayment or deferment.  Defaulted loans can be consolidated too, but certain other requirements need to be met with your loan holder.  If you do not have Federal Direct Loans, you can still be eligible for a Direct Consolidation Loan if you have at least one FFEL Loan and are unable to consolidate with a FFEL lender or are unsatisfied with the FFEL income-sensitive repayment terms or if you want to apply for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Loan consolidation can have some disadvantages.  For instance, the total cost of your loan could increase because you will be paying more interest if you have the longer loan consolidation repayment period of 30 years.  If you consolidate during your grace period, the remaining grace period may be lost.  There may also be unique disadvantages consolidating your Perkin’s Loan that would need to be considered.  You should discuss these issues further with your loan holder because once you consolidate your loans, it cannot be undone.

For more information on loan consolidation, you can review the Loan Consolidation section of the Federal Student Aid’s website.  Also, be sure to check out their Consolidation Checklist to help you decide if consolidation is right for you.  Another good resource, which includes application instructions for a Direct Consolidation Loan, is the Federal Direct Consolidation Loans Information Center at www.loanconsolidation.ed.gov.

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Loan Deferment/Forbearance and Discharge/Forgiveness

It is very important that you make all of your loan payments on time so you can avoid the consequences of default.  If you are having trouble making your payments, you should contact your loan holder immediately because once you are in default, you are not longer eligible for deferments nor forbearances.

Loan Deferment

A deferment is a temporary postponement of payments on your loan, and the interest does not accrue on Subsidized Loans.  You should contact your loan holder for more information or visit the Department of Education’s Postponing Loan Repayment site.  Some of the most common reasons lenders grant loan deferments:

  • Enrolled at least half-time in a postsecondary school
  • Unemployed or unable to find full-time employment (maximum of 3 years)
  • Experiencing economic hardships (including Peace Corps Services) as defined by federal regulations 
  • In a full-time course of study in a graduate fellowship program
  • Studying in an approved rehabilitation training program for individuals with disabilities
  • Serving on active duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency and, if you were serving on or after October 1, 2007, for an additional 180-day period following the demobilization date for your qualifying service.
  • Performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency and, if you were serving on or after October 1, 2007, for an additional 180-day period following the demobilization date for your qualifying service.
  • A member of the National Guard or other reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces (current or retired) and you are called or ordered to active duty while you are enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school or within 6 months of having been enrolled at least half-time, during the 13 months following the conclusion of your active duty service, or until you return to enrolled student status on at least a half-time basis, whichever is earlier.
     

Loan Forbearance

Forbearance is another option for temporarily postponing or reducing loan payments if you do not qualify for a deferment.  Forbearance may be granted if you meet one of the following requirements:

  • You are unable to make your scheduled loan payments for reasons including, but not limited to, financial hardship and illness.
  • You are serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program, and you meet specific requirements.
  • The total amount you owe each month for all of the student loans you received under Title IV of the Act is 20% or more of your total monthly gross income (for a maximum of three years).
  • You are serving in an approved AmeriCorps position.
  • You are performing service that would qualify for loan forgiveness under the requirements of the Teach Loan Forgiveness program.
  • You qualify for partial repayment of your loans under the Student Loan Repayment Program, as administered by the Department of Defense.
  • You are called to active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.
     

Loan Discharge

Your student loans can be canceled or reduced, but only under certain specific circumstances such as death or permanent disability.  You should contact your loan holder for more information or visit the Department of Education’s Discharge and Cancelation site.

Loan Forgiveness

If you are working in a public service job, then you may qualify for loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.  Below is a summary of the program and more information can be found at the Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness site.  Additional helpful information can be found on the Equal Justice Works website.  To qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness:

  • You must have only Direct Loans that are not in default. If you have FFEL Loans, then you can apply for a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify.
  • You must be employed full-time by certain public service employers.  To see a list of qualifying public service jobs, then please review the Federal Student Aid’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness Fact Sheet.
  • You must make 120 loan payments under certain repayment plans.  These eligible repayment plans include the Standard Repayment Plan with a 10-year repayment period, the Income-Based Repayment Plan, the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan and any other Direct Loan Repayment Plan so long as the payments would be at least equal to a monthly payment under the Standard Repayment Plan with a 10-year repayment period.  Please keep in mind that usually only borrowers with financial hardships who are making reduced payments through the Income-Contingent or Income-Based Repayment Plans will have a remaining balance to be forgiven after making 120 loan payments.  Information on the new Income-Based Repayment Plan as it relates to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program can be found at www.ibrinfo.org
      

If you do not qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, your loans can be forgiven under the Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan or the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan.

  • Under ICR, payments are fixed and the amount is calculated yearly based on your adjusted gross income (and your spouse’s income if married), family size and total amount of your Direct Loans.  You have to be a Direct Loan borrower to be eligible to enroll in this plan.  The maximum repayment period is 25 years.  Unpaid loans after 25 years (time spent in deferment or forbearance does not count) will be forgiven, but you may have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount.
  • Under IBR, payments are fixed and the amount is calculated yearly based on 15% of the difference between your adjusted gross income and 150% of the Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines according to your family size.  The maximum repayment period may exceed 10 years.  Unpaid loans after 25 years may be cancelled if you meet certain other requirements.  For more information, please read the Federal Student Aid's IBR Fact Sheet.
     

If you are a full-time teacher in an elementary and secondary school that serve low-income families and meet other qualifications, then you may be eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.  For more information, please visit the Department of Education’s Stafford Loan Forgiveness Programs for Teachers.

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Bar Loans

Several lenders offer bar exam loans to assist you in paying for expenses incurred while preparing to take your bar exam.  This private loan can finance such items as the bar exam cost, bar review course fees and living expenses while you study for the bar.  These loans typically range from $12,000 to $16,000 and you can only apply up to the maximum allowed.  In general you can borrow these funds during your last year of law school and for approximately six to twelve months after you graduate.  The eligibility, terms, interest rate, fees and application deadlines vary from lender to lender and approval is usually dependent on your credit history.  These loans generally have stricter credit criteria so it may be necessary to apply with a co-signer.  You should contact lenders directly for more specific information and to apply for the bar loan that best meets your needs.  Please contact the Office of Financial Aid with any further general questions.

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Office of Financial Aid

Villanova University School of Law
299 North Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA  19085-1682

Academic Year Office Hours:
Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Summer Office Hours:
Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday, 9 a.m. to Noon

Email
Phone
: 610-519-7015
Fax: 610-519-6597

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