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Financial Aid and Scholarships


Managing Educational Debt Successfully (MEDS)

At USC, we understand that even with the best intentions to repay your student loans, life happens. You can experience challenges that make repayment difficult. Explore the different options for repayment to protect your future. 

Understanding Educational Loan Options 

Along with understanding the loan programs we offer, nothing is more important than understanding that you have options when it comes to repayment of student loans. While interest rates, origination fees, and repayment terms can all seem hard to navigate, the easiest way to understand them is to start learning what they all mean. 


Important Definitions

Deferment

With a deferment, your student loan payment is suspended for a specified period of time. Interest is not generally charged on subsidized loans but interest will continue to be charged on your unsubsidized and PLUS loans.

Forbearance

Forbearance also allows your student loan payment to be suspended for a specified period of time but interest is charged on your subsidized, unsubsidized and PLUS loans. Some forbearances are required to be granted by your federal loan servicer; others are offered only at the discretion of your federal loans servicer.

Interest Rate

A loan expense charged for the use of borrowed money. Interest is paid by a borrower to a lender. The expense is calculated as a percentage of the unpaid principal amount of the loan.

Lender

The organization that made the loan initially. The lender could be the borrower's school; a bank, credit union or other lending institution; or the U.S. Department of Education.

Loan Servicer

A company that collects payments, responds to customer service inquiries and performs other administrative tasks associated with maintaining a federal student loan on behalf of a lender. If you're unsure of who your federal student loan servicer is, you can look it up in My Federal Student Aid.

Loan Origination Fee

The loan fee is a fee charged by the lender that is deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. This means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrow. You're responsible for repaying the entire amount you borrowed and not just the amount you received.

Repayment Options and the Repayment Calculator

There are several plans available for federal loans. Students can access the Repayment Calculator to see what repayment plans are available to them. It is important to note that if you have borrowed or plan to borrow a private loan, it cannot be included in these repayment plans. 

The university has contracted with Heartland ECSI to service Perkins, Nursing, Health Professions. If you have questions regarding any of these programs, please contact the Bursar's Office. For information about repayment options for private loans, you should contact your lender.


Positive Practices

Research shows that successful borrowing experiences can be tied directly to prudent financial planning and management as well an academic performance that will lead to timely completion of the degree you are seeking. Here are a few tips to help you manage you educational debt successfully:

Check your online student account.

By doing so, you can remain current on your balance and learn about updates that could support your repayment efforts. The National Student Loan Data System retains all information about your total loan amount borrowed and loan servicer information. 

Graduate at an accelerated pace.

The length of time to complete your degree and the cost of completing your degree are closely related. By completing your degree at an accelerated pace, you increase the value of your success after graduation. 

Implement smart budgeting and money management strategies.

In order to minimize the cost of attending college, smart budgeting and money management allows you (1) to maximize the money you do receive in aid, (2) to understand the financial obligations to repay any money borrowed, (3) to keep borrowing low, (4), to assist in reducing financial stress, and (5) to support your financial well-being in college and beyond. 

The Financial Literacy & Education Program would be happy to provide you with more information and guidance on the topics of basic budgeting, building and managing credit, as well as student loan repayment. If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment, please visit the Student Success Center website

Maintain regular payments.

While deferment and forbearance provisions definitely have their place, do your very best to remain positive in your repayment habits. Even a smaller payment is reflective of repayment success. Missing payments altogether will only extend your repayment and lead to increased cost and potentially damage your credit.

Communicate with your loan servicer.

Don't hesitate to contact your servicer with any questions or to disclose repayment concerns, and be sure to keep contact information up to date. Successful loan repayment experiences often require interventions, and servicers will typically work hard to assist, in the most positive fashion available, the borrower whose efforts in repayment cannot be questioned.

Understand starting salaries.

It's a good idea to understand your career goals and work to achieve them. Salary information can be important to student loan borrowers when budgeting for living expenses. Learn more about South Carolina Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates and National Salary Estimates. 

Work part-time while in school.

A wide range of part-time employment opportunities exist both on and off-campus. The Career Center maintains Handshake, an online database  that includes part-time positions.  They also host an Opportunity Knocks Part-Time Job Fair during Welcome Week each fall. In addition to the Career Center, the financial aid office offers employment opportunities  through the Federal Work-Study Program

Avoid private loans when possible.

Private loans are made by private organizations such banks, credit unions, and state-based or state-affiliated organizations, and have terms and conditions that are set by the lender. Federal student loans are made by the government, with terms and conditions that are set by law, and include many benefits (such as fixed interest rates and income-driven repayment plans) not typically offered with priate loans.