Debt Management

Tools for Debt Management

Resources for Debt Management

  • The UCSF Student Accounting Office: provides assistance with managing Perkins, HPL, LDS, NSL, or University loans, particularly for Deferment requests.
  • your connection to the Department of Education's loan management tools and Loan Exit Counseling, and a loan simulator to help you find a repayment plan best suited to your situation.
  • Heartland ECSI: servicer for UCSF Perkins, HPL, LDS, NSL, PSL and University Loans
  • Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) FIRST: resource for medical students and residents
    • The AAMC FIRST Medloans Organizer and Medloans Calculator offers individualized electronic loan portfolio debt management programs, and allows borrowers to enter loan information and immediately calculate repayment options under standard, graduated, income based, income contingent, consolidated, and extended repayment options.

Loan Repayment Options

Planning for the repayment of your student loans takes some thought and an evaluation of your situation and options. A solid understanding of your options, the hazards of default, and how to resolve federal student loan disputes is critical to your future financial health.
  • Student Loan Management Video Series

    Dr. Jeffrey Hanson, PhD is a nationally known debt management expert hired exclusively by graduate schools to meet individually with over 1,500+ professional students per year at more than 20 different graduate institutions. Sponsored by UCSF Student Financial Services to promote additional financial literacy among our students; no services are being promoted in any way. View and listen to the presentation provided Monday, October 23, 2017.

  • Payment Plans

    The first step to successful repayment is choosing the right plan at the right time. Borrowers may change plans as needed, and there are no prepayment penalties for student loans.

    Federal Loan Repayment Plans

    The Repayment Plan Grid above summarizes the available repayment plans for Federal Loans (Direct Unsubsidized or Subsidized Loans, Grad Plus Loans, and, for the most part, older Stafford loans called "FFEL" loans). Most UCSF graduates want a plan with a lower payment due each month at first, especially if pursuing residency, fellowship, or other continuing training. However, seeking the "lowest" payment available is not always the best long-term plan - as with other interest-bearing debt, the longer you take, the more it will cost over the life of the loan.

    The Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans all offer a way to tie your minimum required payment to your current annual earnings and the one you choose depends largely upon your monthly budget and whether your loans qualify for each plan. To see what your monthly payments will look like under each of the available plans use the Repayment Estimator, available at Once you sign in, you can view your loans, enter your salary, your marital status, number of dependents and tax filing status, and you can get a very good idea of what your monthly payments will be under each plan.

    Other Loans

    University of California, Health Professions, Nursing Student Loans and Federal Perkins loans each have their own terms and conditions for grace periods, repayment options, as well as deferment and forbearance options. They do NOT qualify for the repayment plans shown in the Loan Repayment Plan Grid above. However, all of these loans (except University loans) may be included in a Federal Consolidation Loan and the balances transferred to the new loan become eligible for Income-Driven Repayment and qualify for Public-Service Loan Forgiveness.

    As you do your required Exit counseling upon graduating or withdrawing from the University, you will see a chart that will show you your minimum payments (usually quarterly payments are shown.)

  • Consolidation
    What is Consolidation?

    Consolidation is the process of combining one or more student loans into a new, single loan. Generally this term applies to Direct Lending, whereas Refinancing refers to having a private company or bank take on the debt under new terms which they determine.

    • Consolidation uses a weighted average approach to a new interest rate, rounded up to the nearest 1/8%, so deciding to include or not include some of your loans depends on loan balances, interest rates on each loan, repayment strategy, and repayment benefits such as longer grace periods or deferments on your loans.
    • Consolidation creates a new loan, and underlying loans are paid off. You cannot return to your loans as they were in their original state prior to consolidation.
    • Consolidating "re-starts" the count of the number of eligible payments made to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

    Reasons to Consolidate

    • If your loans are with multiple servicers, and you want to simplify your payments.
    • If you have FFEL loans, Perkins Loans, HPSL, NSL, or LDS loans, and you intend on participating in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

    How to Apply for Consolidation

    • Visit Log in with the FSA userID and password you used to complete the FAFSA.
    • Allow some quiet time to review your options carefully as you build your application: it is not possible to save and return to finish it at a later time.
    • You will need personal information including two references and their addresses and phone numbers. References from your original loan document may already be available on this screen—if so you can add them and edit them.
    • Your Federal loan data (including Perkins loans) will already appear, but you will need to add any HPSL, NSL, or LDS loans you are thinking of including.
      • You will be asked for the account numbers for these loans, use your SSN to respond to this question.
      • You will be asked who the servicer is. You will select other and enter this information in the appropriate boxes: Heartland ECSI P.O. Box 1278 Wexford PA 15090.
      • You will be asked for the first disbursement date. You can reach out to us for that if you cannot identify the date. It is likely the first date of classes for the year you received the loan.
    • Take some time to review the impact of including or excluding some loans – the interest rate and monthly payment amounts will update as you change these choices.
    • If you are considering participating in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) the system will prompt you to choose Fed Loan Servicing as your loan servicer. Once you are enrolled in the PSLF Program and tracking your qualifying employment and payments, Fed Loan Servicing will automatically become your servicer regardless of your servicer choice at the time of consolidation.
    • You may request a delay in the processing of your application to ensure that your consolidation loan is not issued before the end of your grace period if your current loans are in grace. Some borrowers choose to proceed right away if they are choosing an Income-Driven Repayment plan.
    • After completing your online application all questions about the status of your application and your consolidation loan should be directed to the servicer you selected for the new loan. No updates will appear on the application site.
    • Be sure to review the consolidation notifications you receive from the servicer after they process your application - make sure it is what you wanted!

    Resources about Consolidation

    Private Consolidation / Loan Refinancing

    Some companies offer to purchase your federal, institutional, and other private debt and offer you a new, private loan. Terms and conditions of these loans are at the discretion of the lender. Before pursuing a private consolidation offered at a lower interest rate, be sure you read the fine print, understand all the terms and conditions of the new loan, and understand what federal benefits (such as Income-Driven Repayment, deferment, forbearance, forgiveness plans, fixed interest rates, and death/disability benefits) you may be losing by refinancing your federal debt to private debt.

  • Grace Period

    Many student loans provide a "grace period" immediately following graduation. The Repayment Plan Timeline above highlights these on a single chart as does the Student Loan Comparison Summary. This is a time when payments are not required and, in some cases, interest does not accrue. The grace period must be used before you can obtain deferments. Some loan programs provide another grace period, lasting six months, after periods of approved deferment. The Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan and Unsubsidized Direct Loan charge interest during the six-month allowable grace period. See the Grace/Deferment chart below for specific grace period information for the various federal student loan programs. if you took a leave of absence from your undergraduate education or interrupted your graduate school studies (for research, illness, etc.), your loans were placed in grace at that time. Whether or not you receive a grace period upon graduation depends on the length of time you were away from undergraduate or graduate school and the policies of the individual loan programs. The status of your grace period (or lack thereof) is vitally important since it usually affects when your deferment period begins and, ultimately, when actual loan repayment begins.

    Activated for Military Duty

    Being on active duty for more than 30 days extends your grace period for up to three years. This essentially means your loans do not enter grace or deferment during active duty.

  • Deferment
    What is Deferment?

    Deferment is a temporary period during which you are not required to make payments. You qualify for deferments based on a condition such as unemployment, enrollment, fellowship program, military service, etc. They are often given for twelve months. Deferment, if you qualify, is often a better option for borrowers than forbearance since any subsidized loan that you may have do not accrue interest during deferment. Eligibility requirements for qualified deferments differ based on loan type and the date the loan was originated. For a more complete listing of eligible deferments, please click on your loan servicer's website or visit the Department of Education's Direct Loan website. An important consideration to choosing to accept a deferment is that any unsubsidized loans continue to accrue interest and that interest is capitalized (added onto the principal of the loan) at the end of the deferment.

    Education Related Deferments

    1. Graduate Fellowship Deferment
      If you are engaged in a full-time course of study in a qualified graduate fellowship program, you may be eligible to qualify for an education-related Graduate Fellowship Deferment. Your fellowship program must provide financial support to allow for full-time study for at least six months. A graduate fellowship program official must certify your deferment form indicating that you meet all the eligibility requirements. You may download this deferment form from your loan servicer(s). If you are applying for a Graduate Fellowship Deferment, ensure that you send a deferment form to ALL of your loan servicers. In addition, we suggest following up with your loan servicers to confirm that your deferment has been approved. For more information, please contact your loan servicer and/or view the Department of Education's Direct Loan website for more details.
    2. In-School Deferment
      In-school deferment allows you to temporarily suspend student loan payments while you are enrolled in an eligible school at least half-time. If this is your first quarter of enrollment at UCSF and you have previous educational loans from undergraduate studies, you may need to complete an in-school deferment form (download the form from your servicer's website). However, after enrollment reporting is completed for the quarter, your loans may automatically be deferred. The Registrar's Office at UCSF can assist you in getting in-school deferment forms certified for your enrollment at UCSF. You will want to log onto your account with your loan servicer(s) to make sure the new status is applied to your account.

      If you are returning to UCSF from a leave of absence after doing research, after obtaining an additional degree at another institution, or after taking time off from your curriculum, we recommend that you actively complete an in-school deferment form, and submit the completed form to all of your loan servicers (including those that service your federal and campus loans). For campus loans, please contact Student Accounting office. For federal loans, log onto NSLDS to obtain contact information for all of your federal loan servicers. Perkins loans' borrowers should contact the institution from where the loan was originated. For UCSF, the Student Accounting Office can assist you with deferments on Perkins, Health Professions Loans, Loans for Disadvantaged Students, Nursing Student Loans, and University Loans. Again, it is essential that you follow-up to ensure that your loan status has been adjusted as you requested. Please click here for a copy of the Department of Education's in-school deferment form.

    NOTE: Deferments on Federal Stafford (Direct or FFEL) loans are NOT available because you are in a medical residency program though a forbearance is available. Institutional loans such as Perkins, HPSL, Nursing, and University Loans, however, have varying availability of deferments in residency or advanced training programs.

  • Forbearance
    What is Forbearance?

    Forbearance is the most costly alternative to actual repayment because interest accrues on both your subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans. However, forbearance might be your only viable option. Be sure to explore all of the Income-Driven Repayment plan options before choosing forbearance; payments may be lower than you might assume when driven by your current income. If you apply for and receive a forbearance for 12 months, and your financial situation changes to allow for payment - you may, and often should, elect to leave the forbearance status. During the process of applying for forbearance, continue to make payments and do not assume forbearance has been approved until you receive written confirmation from your lender or loan servicer.

    Forbearance During Delinquency

    If your loans become delinquent due to non-payment, you will have to “bring them current” before any deferment can be allowed. In many cases, your lender or servicer will grant a forbearance for the time period between the payment due date and the date your loans can enter a deferment status. Any time forbearance is granted, remember that interest accrues on the loans, making them more expensive. Forbearance is not granted automatically, and must be specifically requested.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Federal government, through the Department of Education, offers potential loan forgiveness for Direct Loan borrowers employed by a non-profit or government agency. Whatever is forgiven after 10 years of eligibility would be tax-free. Check out our Public Service Loan Forgiveness page for details, tools, and tips.

Other Loan Repayment Assistance Programs