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LANSING – As the Michiganders prepare for the next fall semester and begin paying their tuition fees, the Michigan Department of the Treasury’s Student Assistance Team is calling on students and their families to be vigilant and informed when considering student loans.

To make the best decisions about student loans, the MI Student Aid team recommends seven financial aid tips:

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Colleges use information from the FAFSA to determine their financial aid awards. By completing and submitting the FAFSA, students are maximizing all of their financial aid options.

≤ Understand that loans must be repaid. Not all financial aid included in a financial aid award letter is free money. Many financial aid scholarships will include federal student loans. Unlike grants and scholarships, loans must be repaid with interest.

Check the amount of interest offered on a loan before accepting it. Federal student loans, parent undergraduate student loans (PLUS), and private loans have varying interest rates and repayment terms. Before taking out loans, students should identify and compare the interest rate on each loan, then accept the loans with the best interest rates and repayment terms.

Accept only the amount you will need. Students can either decline a loan or request a lower loan amount, and the financial award letter should include instructions on how to do this.

≤ Be aware of loan scams. In a typical student loan scam, a scammer will ask for banking information from a student looking for loans. The scammer usually claims that he will use the information to make a direct deposit to a student’s account in exchange for upfront fees and gift cards. Instead, the scammer accesses the student’s bank account and withdraws funds. Also, beware of refund scams. You don’t have to pay for help when repaying student loans. Contact your repairer if you have questions about the refund.

≤ Visit the school’s financial aid office once per semester. While students may not have to start repaying their loans while they are in school, they shouldn’t wait to understand their responsibilities. Students should know their college or university’s student account status and track the types of help they receive.

Create a studentaid.gov account. Studentaid.gov, managed by the US Department of Education, is a one-stop shop for managing federal student aid. With a studentaid.gov account, students can track all of their student loans, check each person’s interest rate and the total interest accrued to date.

According to the National Student Loan Data System, individuals have approximately $ 1.7 trillion nationwide and more than $ 52.5 billion statewide in outstanding student debt.

For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid or contact MI Student Aid at mistudentaid@michigan.gov, 1-888-447-2687 or @mistudentaid on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

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