If You Don’t Match: Steps to Manage Student Loans

This may be a stressful time in your life and medical education career, so the following information is shared in an effort to provide helpful guidance on how to manage your student loan debt in the coming days and year.

The Next Step

First, determine what your plans are for the upcoming year. Specifically, prior to next year’s match, will you continue on as a student (by delaying graduation and furthering your education, obtaining a transitional slot, or performing research under the umbrella of your medical school)?  If your medical school continues to report you as a fully enrolled student, then your federal student loans will NOT require payment. However, if you plan to graduate this year, the following actions need to be taken.

Finding the Details of Your Loans

Organizing your loans begins with identifying the servicer of each loan -- a servicer is the manager of your student loans. Your federal student loan information, including the name of the servicer and their contact information, is listed within the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). Payment due dates are determined by the loans’ servicers, but generally speaking, most federal student loans have a grace period, immediately following medical school (6-9 months) during which no payments are required.  After grace is over, you will either seek to postpone loan repayment or you will select an affordable repayment plan.  To pursue either of these options, and to confirm the existence and length of your grace period, as well as your repayment options, contact your loan servicer(s).

Postponing Payments

If you prefer to postpone payments, you may request either a deferment or forbearance on the loans. The loan servicer will determine your eligibility for these options. With both deferment and forbearance, payments are not required; however, a deferment is preferential because if you have any subsidized debt, it will not accrue interest during deferment. The types of deferment that you may qualify for include an Economic Hardship Deferment or an Unemployment Deferment – though both have stringent eligibility requirements. 

If you do not qualify for deferment, then forbearance may be a possible alternative.  Forbearance periods are granted by the servicer and are at the discretion of the servicer. During forbearance, payments are not required, but interest accrues on all loans -- subsidized and unsubsidized.  Reach out to your servicer(s) to discuss your deferment and forbearance options.

Making Payments

If postponement isn’t an option, or if you would rather begin making payments, then you’ll want to select a repayment plan that’s best for you.  There are numerous plans to choose from, so work with your servicer(s) (before grace is over) to determine which plan fits your needs. Affordable repayment plans like Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) can provide a low monthly payment. In some cases, a payment as low as $0/month is possible with these income-driven plans, so be sure to discuss these plans with your servicers.

Some of your federal loans could benefit from consolidation. Take this quiz to see if consolidation is the right choice for you.

The options previously discussed are specifically for federal student loans, and may or may not be available for private loans.  If you have private loans or institutional loans, you will need to reach out to the lender of those loans to find out what options may be available.  

Looking Ahead

You have a lot to focus on in the upcoming year so take care of your loans now by staying in touch with your servicer(s). Start off by updating the servicer(s) with any address changes that may occur. Also, be sure to open and read any mail you receive.  Keep in mind your loans will require more attention now than they have in the past, so stay proactive and current on managing them.

Additional Resources:

 

News and Announcements

Because interview time is such a busy period for applicants, schools, and programs alike, the ERAS Advisory Committee is working to help raise awareness and offer suggestions for addressing some behaviors that have an impact on the interview process.  

Important Dates

January (2019)
Urology match results are available.
February
American Osteopathic Association (AOA) match results are available.

ERAS 2019 Residency Application Timeline
Key dates for the 2019 ERAS season

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