ICOM encourages you to consider the amounts you are borrowing carefully and avoid additional student loan debt whenever possible. Student loans must be repaid, with interest, just like car loans and home mortgages.
Before you borrow:
- Exhaust all other possible sources of funding such as scholarships.
- Understand your tuition and fee charges versus the full cost of attending.
- Protect your future financial health by making a plan to avoid over-borrowing. Ways to map out a strategy are included on the financial literacy page.
- Understand the terms of the loans and your repayment options including your monthly payment amount.
There are several important things to know about loans to help you plan to borrow only what you need to cover the costs of your education.
- Loans cannot be canceled because of dissatisfaction with the education you receive, the inability to secure a job in your field of study, or because of having financial difficulty.
- Loans are legal obligations which must be repaid with interest.
- Defaulting on your student loans can lead to serious consequences including the loss of eligibility for federal student aid, collection fees, damage to your credit, and IRS garnishment of your state and federal tax refunds.
- If you are having difficulty making your monthly payments, do not hesitate to ask for help from your loan servicer or the Office of Financial Aid. Early intervention is critical. Many options are available which may help you to avoid default.
- Federal student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
In order to be eligible for private/alternative loan funds, a student must complete the loan application with the lender of their choice and be enrolled at ICOM (refer to the Private/Alternative Loan paragraphs below).
Private student loans, sometimes referenced as "alternative loans," are loans made on the basis of credit worthiness of the borrower and if needed, co-signer. Interest rates are typically market-based and repayment and forgiveness options are less plentiful than federal loans.
Students should be aware that these types of loans are not subject to the same oversight and regulations which cover federal loans, and they do not qualify for the same benefits as federal loans. The terms and conditions of loans made under Title IV (Federal Direct Unsubsidized of Federal PLUS Loans) may be more favorable than those of private education loans. In many cases, it is advisable for students to exhaust their federal eligibility before borrowing from a private lender.
Students typically initiate the application by applying through the lender of their choice. Since students are encouraged to seek out and select their own lender for a private student loan, the student should contact the lender and complete the loan application. The lender then contacts ICOM to complete a Self Certification form. ICOM will also provide the Self Certification form at the request of the student. ICOM reviews each student’s eligibility prior to completing a Self Certification form. Self Certification forms will only be completed for eligible students.
The Department of Education provides a free resource to assist students with identifying the differences between federal and private student loans. In addition, all students should review the Department’s publication, Funding Your Education: The Guide to Federal Student Aid.
For students who conclude that private loans are the right option, we recommend that you review many lenders and compare costs and terms before borrowing. Our office will process a private loan application with the lender of your choice. However, we cannot recommend any particular private lender. All borrowing decisions are the responsibility of the student.
Debt and Repayment
Be knowledgeable about your debt. Know the total amount you have borrowed and understand what that means for repayment. Plan ahead and be prepared for repayment after you graduate. It is important to keep your contact information up-to-date with your servicer.
Here are some strategies to help you make smart decisions about borrowing now, so that you understand and are prepared for your debt later.
- Creating and sticking to a monthly budget will help you evaluate how much you need to borrow while attending school.
- Know how much you can expect to earn when you graduate. Understanding your monthly earnings is the first step in setting a successful strategy.
- Know how much is available, student financial aid and loan funding can be limited to annual and lifetime amounts.
- Knowing how much is available and how much you need each year will help you estimate your total student loan debt at graduation.
- Know the type of loan you are receiving and the terms and conditions of the loan. This includes the cost of getting the loan, interest rate, and repayment terms. ICOM encourages you to know before you owe.
- Know how much your monthly payment will be based on the total loan amount borrowed. Keeping track of the total loan amount borrowed from year to year and the changes to monthly payment, will help you keep your borrowing in line with your expected wages and goals. ICOM recommends keeping copies of all loan applications and paperwork together to help you manage and track your loans.
- Know your repayment options. Federal student loans and private/alternative loans have different consolidation and repayment options. Explore these options to find the payment option that is right for you. ICOM encourages you to understand your repayment options before you graduate. Some repayment plans may have an application.
National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Programs
The NHSC offers three loan repayment options for primary care providers who work at approved community sites.
Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program
The Indian Health Service (IHS) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) offers health professionals the opportunity to pay off qualified student loans while assisting the IHS in meeting the staffing needs of Indian health programs. The LRP awards loan repayment to health professionals practicing in specific health profession disciplines who are willing to commit to an initial two-year service obligation while working in health facilities serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Programs
NIH offers loan repayment programs to outstanding health professionals who choose to pursue careers in biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical research. If you commit at least two years to conducting qualified research funded by a domestic nonprofit organization or U.S. federal, state, or local government entity, NIH may repay up to $35,000 of your qualified student loan debt per year, including most undergraduate, graduate, and medical school loans.
State Loan Forgiveness/Repayment Programs
State governments often provide loan repayment programs as an incentive for service. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) provides an excellent resource for obtaining information on these programs. In addition, the NHSC provides a chart which shows all states that participate in their State Loan Repayment Program.
Military Health Professions Loan Repayment Program
The HPLRP is available from some branches of the US military. For terms and conditions, please contact a service branch representative.