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Student-loan borrowers have a period of time after graduating, leaving school or dropping below half-time enrollment before collectors come knocking.

Typically, the period is about six months, and students will receive notices throughout that time to remind them of the forthcoming monthly payments, said Tony Williams, executive director of the Arkansas Student Loan Authority, which, in part, helps counsel students about loans.

The state loan authority can help students negotiate with lenders.

Options for student-loan borrowers include:

• Standard repayment, fixed monthly payments over a 10-year period.

• Extended repayment, monthly payments over a 25-year period.

• Graduated repayment, monthly payments that grow in the amount paid over a 10-year period.

• Income-driven repayment, which include four different plans, of which all payments are based on the student's current income and family size. These plans allow some low-income borrowers to have a monthly bill of $0.

• Income-sensitive repayment, which increases or decreases monthly payments based on annual income for a maximum period of 10 years. Subsidized and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans and Federal Family Education Loan PLUS and Federal Family Education Consolidation loans are eligible for this method.

• Deferment, a temporary halt in payments if a borrower is in a situation where he cannot make payments, such as being in school part-time, unemployed or in the military because of war. During deferment, borrowers usually are not responsible for interest on direct subsidized loans, subsidized federal Stafford loans, federal Perkins loans and subsidized portions of Direct Consolidation or Federal Family Education Consolidation loans.

• Forbearance, a temporary halt in payments if a borrower experiences financial difficulties, medical expenses, changes in employment or other reasons acceptable to the loan provider. Borrowers are still responsible for paying the interest that accrues for all loans.

Some loans can also be forgiven for those entering public service -- such as a government or nonprofit agency -- or for teachers.

The Student Loan Authority has a hotline, Student Loan Help for Arkansas, to help any student-loan borrower in the state. It can be reached at (855) 275-1200.

A Section on 09/30/2017

Print Headline: Options available to pay student debt

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