Credit, Debt and Money Management
Access Group: Manage Your Finances
Great Lakes: Managing Your Money
SallieMae: Your Financial Success
Annual credit report: The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that there is only one authorized Web site from which to obtain your annual credit report: annualcreditreport.com. Many other Web sites claim to offer “free” credit reports, “free” credit scores, or “free” credit monitoring, but be careful. These sites are not part of the official annual free credit report program. And in some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly free service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period ends. Order your free annual credit report using one of the following methods:
1. Go online, annualcreditreport.com
2. Call toll-free, (877) 322-8228
3. Mail a request to: Annual Credit Report, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta GA 30348-5281
Debt Management Programs and Information - Many Web sites contain this type of information. Most private lenders’ sites have this information too.
AAMC DEBTHELP: Debt Management Services for Residents
AAMC (MD)2: Monetary Decisions for M.D.s
NSLDS: National Student Loan Data System
Sallie Mae: After Graduation: Managing Your Loans
A Listserv for Medical Residents in Loan Repayment - AAMC MoneyMatters: This debt management listserv is dedicated to loan issues for residents. There are no mailing lists involved and it is confidential. MoneyMatters is an easy, timely way to get concise, objective and confidential answers to questions about your loan portfolio; reminders about filing for deferment and forbearance; comprehensive information about loan consolidation; notices about interest rate changes.
To subscribe, send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject field, provide information identifying your residency program or your GME affiliation. In the body of the message, type: subscribe moneymatters <your e-mail address>.
Tax Benefits for Higher Education - You may qualify for savings under the following education tax benefits:
Lifetime Learning Tax Credit
Student Loan Interest Deduction
Tuition and Fee Deduction
Education Savings Accounts
Employer-Provided Education Benefits
To determine your eligibility for any of these or other benefits, you should consult a qualified tax adviser or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), (800) 829-1040. For additional information, see IRS publication 970, “Tax Benefits for Education.”
Check Your Loan Status Via the Web or By Phone
- Direct Loan Servicing Online - (800) 433-3243: Services all subsidized and unsubsidized Direct Loans. Check the status of your loan account via their Web site. When checking, remember that it reflects only loan amounts that have been disbursed and “booked” (reconciled with the loan servicer).
- Heartland ECSI - (888)549-3274: Services all university-based loans (e.g., Perkins Loans, Primary Care Loans, University Student Loans, Medical Student Loans, Loans to Disadvantaged Students). They also provide deferment forms and other information on their Web site. Please note: ECSI will not have your loan information until after you graduate. Until graduation, all of your university-based loan information is held by UC Davis Student Accounting, (530) 752-3646.
- Private Lenders: If you received a Stafford/Direct Loan prior to your attendance at the School of Medicine, the best source of information on your loan(s) is the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). Your lender may have changed names, been purchased or sold your loans to another entity. Check the NSLDS Web site to find current contact information or call the federal Student Aid Information Center, (800) 4-FED-AID ((800) 433-3243), 8 a.m. to midnight (Eastern), seven days a week.
Managing Your Loan Records - Although your loan servicers keep records of your transactions, it is also important that you keep accurate records. As you repay your loans, items such as canceled checks and letters you receive from your school or a loan servicer might seem like paperwork cluttering up your life, but they can be important. Do not throw them out! To be a successful loan manager, always keep your personal records up to date. You might need these records if you ever have to prove to a potential lender that you have responsibly managed your loans (e.g., if you want to borrow to buy a car or apply for a credit card). You should keep:
all “borrower” copies of loan documents (such as promissory notes and disclosures) received from your school, the loan origination center and loan servicers
bank account statements or copies of money orders used to make your loan payments
all loan correspondence you receive from your school
all correspondence you receive from loan servicers
all entrance and exit counseling material given to you by your school and/or loan servicers
Each time one of your loans is paid off the loan servicer will send you a letter confirming that the loan is paid in full. These letters are important items to keep too.