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Our Best Answer: When and how do I pay back my Federal Direct Loan (FDL)?

Paying Back Your Federal Direct Loan (FDL)

You have a 6 month grace period after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time before you'll have to begin repaying your loan. During the grace period, you don't have to make any payments and you're not charged any interest. You can, of courser, prepay any portion of your loan at any time without penalty.

You can make your FDL payments to your loan servicer. If you're not sure who your loan servicer is, you can look up the information in your account at

The Federal Direct Loan Program offers a choice of several repayment plans that differ in a number of ways to meet the needs of individual borrowers. You may choose any one of the plans and, in most cases, can change from one plan to another during your repayment period. There is no limit to the number of times you may switch from one plan to another. Each plan has certain features and conditions that you must carefully consider before deciding which plan to use. You'll be able to receive information about these plans as well as other repayment options (such as loan consolidation) at your exit counseling, or you can visit Federal Student Aid's How to Repay Your Loans.

Using your FSA ID, you can obtain complete information about your Direct Loan account at You may also access information about your student loan borrowing and other types of federal student aid you have received at the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) for Students.

Payment Problems:  If you don't make your loan payments on time and don't contact the your loan servicer about it, you will be considered delinquent in repaying the loan.

The first thing to do is to contact your loan servicer. They will discuss with you the various options that may make it easier for you to manage your monthly payment schedule. You may be able to have your monthly payments lowered by changing to a different payment plan.

Under some circumstances?such as returning to school, becoming unemployed or suffering economic hardship?you may qualify for a deferment. If granted a deferment, you'll be able to suspend regular loan payments for a certain time. Learn more about deferment and forbearance (if you don't qualify for a deferment).

Loan Default: If you fail to make payments for 6 months, the loan will go into default. If this happens, you can be asked by the federal government to repay the entire loan immediately. You can be sued to collect the amount of the original loan, plus interest, court costs and other penalties. You'll be reported to national credit bureaus and have your credit rating adversely affected. Your income tax refunds and up to 15% of your wages can be withheld to collect the debt. If you're receiving Social Security, the federal government may withhold a portion of your benefits to pay your loan debt. Finally, your school records will be impounded and you will be prohibited from receiving any federal student aid at any school you wish to attend until the default is resolved.

If you're notified that your loan is in default, contact your loan servicer. They'll inform you under what circumstances you may have the default status removed and will discuss the possibilities for you to rehabilitate your loan once you make 9 consecutive, voluntary, on-time payments. Loan rehabilitation provides you with a "second chance" by removing your loan from default status, restoring financial aid eligibility and reinstating deferment privileges.

Repayment assistance may be available if you serve in the military. For more information about repayment assistance, consult your recruiting officer.

There are certain exceptional circumstances such as the borrower's death or permanent disability that can result in the discharge or cancellation of a student loan. A discharge releases the borrower from all obligations to repay. There are also certain conditions under which your Direct Loan balance can be forgiven. View a list of discharge conditions.

Remember, your loan can't be discharged because you didn't complete your program of study, didn't like the school or couldn't find a job after graduation.

For more information about discharge or repayment assistance, contact your loan servicer or the lender or guarantee agency that holds your loan. You can also visit Federal Student Aid's Forgiveness, Cancellation, and Discharge web pages for more detailed information.

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