Frequently asked questions

Live chat hours

Monday-Thursday: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT
Friday: 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT
Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CT

When do I start repaying my loan(s)?

Your first payment will be due when your grace period ends, which for most federal student loans is six months after you graduate, withdraw or drop below half-time enrollment.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Under the Master Promissory Note, it is your responsibility to know when and where to send your payments—do not wait to receive a payment notice or statement to make your payment. If you wait for your loan servicer(s) to contact you first, you may already have missed a payment.

If you do not know when and where to send your payment, visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), the central database for federal student loan information. You may also contact Solutions at ECMC. We can help you identify your loan servicer(s) and find the information you need to understand your federal student loan repayment options.

Back to top
What if I can’t afford to make my payments?

If you cannot afford the payment once it is due, you may work with your loan servicer(s) to try to find a solution that works for you. Federal student loans offer several options, such as deferments and forbearances, as well as flexible income-driven repayment options. Find out more in our payment plans section.

If you do not know who your loan servicer(s) is, go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), the central database for federal student loan information. This website will provide you contact information for your loan servicer(s).

If you need additional assistance, contact Solutions at ECMC. We can help you get started.

Back to top
Where can I get a complete summary of my loan(s)?

If you know who your loan servicer(s) is, you can contact them to receive a personal loan statement.

If you are unsure about who your loan servicer(s) is, visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), which is the centralized database for federal student loan information. NSLDS has information on your federal student loan(s) and contact information for your loan servicer(s). Some borrowers have more than one loan servicer. If you have private or state loans, you will need to locate your promissory note(s) for your loan(s) or call your school for more information.

Back to top
What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans?

With subsidized loans, the federal government pays the interest on the loans while you are in school, during your grace period*, during any authorized periods of deferment and in certain situations during repayment.

In the case of unsubsidized loans, all of the interest that accrues is your responsibility to pay. You have the choice of paying the interest prior to entering repayment or allowing the interest to accumulate until you enter repayment. Use the value of making interest payments calculator to understand the savings of paying the interest as it accrues.

*The federal government does not pay the interest during the grace period for Direct Subsidized loans disbursed between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2014.

Back to top
What’s a deferment?

A deferment is a period of time during which you may postpone your monthly payments. Deferments are only granted under specific circumstances, such as unemployment or returning to school. Contact your loan servicer(s) to see if you qualify for a deferment. You may also contact Solutions at ECMC for help.

Back to top
What’s a forbearance?

A forbearance is an authorized period of time during which your loan servicer(s) agrees to temporarily postpone or reduce your payment amount if you are experiencing short-term financial difficulties. Even though your payments are postponed or reduced, you will still be responsible for paying the interest that accrues on your loan(s), even on a subsidized loan(s), during the forbearance. If you do not make interest payments during your forbearance, the amount you owe will increase.

Back to top
Can I pay all or part of my loan(s) before payments are due (prepay)?

Yes, you may prepay your federal student loan(s) in part or in full at any time without any prepayment penalty, regardless of your repayment plan. If you can afford it, prepaying your loan(s) helps reduce the total cost of paying back the loan(s). Use this calculator to understand the savings prepaying may have on the overall cost of the loan.

Back to top
I’ve heard that being late on my student loan payments will affect my credit. How?

You are building a credit score by repaying your federal student loan(s). Your credit score is based on your financial history—a loan(s) you have, amount(s) you owe, on-time payments, etc. If you are consistently late on your student loan payments, this may be reflected on your consumer credit report, including missed payments and default.

Back to top
What's the difference between delinquency and default?

Delinquency occurs when your loan payment is late (also known as past due). If you are delinquent on your loan(s), there may be several options available to you to help you get back on track. Contact your loan servicer(s) or Solutions at ECMC to learn more. You can find contact information for your loan servicer(s) by going to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), which is the centralized database for federal student loan information.

Default can occur when your loans are delinquent for 270 consecutive days or more. Defaulting on a loan(s) may have significant consequences.

Back to top
Can I lower my monthly payment to an amount that works better for my budget?

If you have not defaulted on your student loan(s), work with your loan servicer(s) to discuss available options. Your loan servicer(s) can work with you to develop a repayment strategy and help you find a repayment plan that will fit your individual financial needs.

If you are delinquent on your student loan(s), you will first need to bring your loan(s) current before you can change your repayment plan. This can be done by paying the past due amount or requesting deferment or forbearance, if applicable, to cover the delinquent payments.

If you do not know who your loan servicer(s) is, go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), which is the centralized database for federal student loan information. You will find contact information for the loan servicer(s) of your federal student loan(s). If you have a private or state student loan(s), refer to the promissory note(s) to find contact information for your loan servicer(s).

If you are behind on your payments, contact us—we are here to help you.

Back to top

Contact us