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Grad Sense: A Financial Tool for Graduate Students

Thinking about grad school but you just are not sure how much it will benefit you?
GradSense.org is a website that helps you calculate how much you will get paid with a bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, or professional degree. This website also gives you valuable savings tips, loan repayment options, and job finding tips.

What is the average pay for people that graduate with your degree?
On the home screen it will prompt you with a question asking what your highest level of education will be at graduation. The next question asks what field of study you will attain with your degree. Grad Sense then takes this information and gives you a low median and high level of pay that you can expect after graduation.

How can you save money?
Under the Add It Up tab, Grad Sense gives you examples of ways that you could be saving money on everyday expenses. The compound interest calculator provides information on how much you can expect to save annually based on if you make your coffee at home rather than from a coffee shop, for example, while you’re in school. The calculator then shows you how much you can have saved by the time you retire if you invest these savings after graduation.

Do you want to know how long it will take you to repay your student loans?
Grad Sense shows you the different repayment options for federal student loans as well as some useful links under the Loan Repayment tab. It also gives you an example of how much a student with a $40,000 federal student loan would pay monthly under the standard, graduated, or extended repayment plans.

Need some job tips?
Grad Sense provides information about choosing a job based on the benefits it offers and even helps you develop good salary negotiating skills. Job salary is not everything. Sometimes job benefits can be very helpful, and you should make sure you know what benefits each company offers. After looking at the company’s benefits you need to negotiate your salary. Your job is to know what the salary range is for your position and negotiate your salary based on your experience and skills.

Tyler Larson
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

Student Loan Servicers

A loan servicer is a company issued by the U.S. Department of Education that takes care of federal student loans. They deal with billing, loan consolidation, repayment plans and other services that are related to federal student loans.

When you are issued a student loan from the federal government, the government is not the one that holds on to them and keeps track of the information about the loan. The U.S. Department of Education passes your student loans to one of the eleven loan servicers after the loan amount is disbursed. A list of the loan servicers and their phone numbers for loans disbursed through the Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Loan) and the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) are below:

Aspire Resources Inc. 1-855-475-3335
CornerStone 1-800-663-1662
ESA/Edfinancial 1-855-337-6884
FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA) 1-800-699-2908
Granite State – GSMR 1-888-556-0022
Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc. 1-800-236-4300
MOHELA 1-888-866-4352
Nelnet 1-888-486-4722
OSLA Servicing 1-866-264-9762
Sallie Mae 1-800-722-1300
VSAC Federal Loans 1-888-932-5626

To find out who your loan servicer is, start by going to the National Student Loan Data System website (nslds.ed.gov) to access information regarding your student loans you received from the federal government and the contact information of your loan servicer. If you received a loan in the current year or will receive a loan in the upcoming year, you will need to contact your financial aid office at your school over the status of the loan, loan disbursement timings and loan cancellation within 120 days of the loan disbursement. If the loan was disbursed in a prior year, then you will need to contact your loan servicer to get the information.

There are a number of reasons why you should be in contact with your loan servicer:
• Change in address, name or phone number
• Dropped below half-time status in school
• Stopped going to school
• Transferred to a new school
• Graduated

Once you graduate, this does not mean that you are done contacting your loan servicer. You will need to be in contact if you:
• Change your address, name, or phone number
• Need to change to a different repayment plan
• Have a question regarding your student loans or monthly payments

There may come a time when you find out that your loan servicer is changing to a new company. Do not worry if this happens. From time to time the Education Department transfers loans from servicer to servicer in the expectations that it will give more customer and repayment support. There are a few things that will happen if your loan servicer is transferred.
• You will receive an e-mail or letter from your current loan servicer when your loans are transferred to the new servicer.
• Your new servicer will then send you a welcome letter once they have your loans in their system, and in this letter should contain their contact information and how to proceed with them.
o You will have to create a new account with the new servicer.
o If you have your repayments set up through a bank, you will want to make sure and update the new information to have the payments sent to the new servicer.
• You will have the same terms of repayment.
• If you are making payments during the transfer process the servicers will work to make sure the payments are accounted for.

If you have a Federal Perkins Loan, and want to know who to contact, you will want to first contact the school that you attended when it was disbursed. Federal Perkins Loans are issued by the school, and will normally be the loan servicer as well. If you contact your school and find out that they are no longer the loan servicer for your loan, you will contact ECSI Federal Perkins Loan Servicer at 1-866-313-3797.

If you have a private student loan then you should contact the lender who you received the loan from for information about that loan.

Steven Plott
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

Everything You Need to Know about the FAFSA

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form that should be completed annually by any college student seeking student loans or grants for the next school year. To get any kind of federal financial aid, you must file the FAFSA. It will determine how much financial need you have for student loans, grants, and even work study. Federal student loans can be either subsidized or unsubsidized. Subsidized loans are loans that the federal government subsidizes for you while you are a student. That means that the interest on the loan is paid for you. Unsubsidized loans have interest that accumulates while you are in school. Grants do not need to be repaid. They are basically free money given based on need. Work study is given based on need as well. You work on campus part-time and get paid with that money.

Who is it for?

Subsidized loans are available for undergraduate college students with financial need. Unsubsidized loans are available for undergraduate and graduate college students with no requirement to show financial need. You must show financial need in order to qualify for grants and work study as an undergraduate and graduate student. You must also be at least a half-time student to receive federal financial aid.

When should it be done?

Submit your FAFSA application by March 1st for K-State because it is their priority deadline. That is when certain grants will be awarded to needy students. The sooner you submit your application, the better. Keep in mind that every school has a different priority deadline so make sure you know when it is. If you miss the priority deadline, it’s not too late! Go ahead and file your FAFSA as soon as possible.

Where to start?

Complete your FAFSA at https://fafsa.ed.gov/. If you have not completed the FAFSA previously, you and your parents may need to register for a Federal Student Aid PIN. You can do so at pin.ed.gov. Remember that pin and do not share it with anyone. It will serve as your electronic signature at the end of your application.

If you are a dependent of your parents’, then you will need their information in addition to yours. You will need social security numbers, 2013 federal income tax returns, bank and brokerage statements, and your PIN numbers.

You need your tax information for the FAFSA but if you have not done your taxes yet, then you should still submit it with estimates first. You can go back to it later and import your tax information directly to your FAFSA using the tax filing pin you created when doing your taxes.

Renewing your FAFSA

If you have completed the FAFSA before, it will be easier to fill it out now. Your information from prior years will be transferred, then you can just update your information with new tax return information, etc. You can use the import tool to retrieve your income tax information.

Melissa Daovannary
Peer Counselor I
Powercat Financial Counseling
www.k-state.edu/pfc

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