Iowa College Aid Insider: Succeeding in College and Career (Jan. 2018)


Managing Debt

Changing Majors

Finding Internships

Managing life and debt after graduation

If you’re entering the home stretch of your college career, it’s time to start thinking about repaying loans. Most loans will come due six months after you graduate, so it’s a good idea to know what’s coming.   

Revisit the fine print: What is the interest rate? Is it fixed or variable? If you receive forbearance on your loan, will interest continue to accrue?

Make a repayment plan: Your options include fixed repayment, graduated repayment, income-based repayment and extended repayment. Contact your lender at any time to change plans. Automatic drafts ensure you won’t incur late fees or penalties. Paying more than the minimum can significantly cut the amount of interest you pay.

Keep credit debt in check: It’s tempting to run up credit card balances as you set up housekeeping on your own, but don’t do it. Leave yourself some cushion so that you can keep paying off your loans if your financial situation changes suddenly.

Speak up if you’re in trouble: If you realize you’re about to miss a payment, contact your lender and ask about forbearance options for financial hardship. Don’t wait and let late notices start piling up—these can damage your credit rating for years.

Major question: Is it time to change?

It’s the most common question when you meet other students: “What’s your major?” But if that answer is starting to give you pause, maybe it’s time to rethink your course of study.   

More than half of college students in the United States change their major at some point. A few words of caution if you’re considering it: Changing majors can increase the amount of time—and therefore the amount of money—you spend on your degree. And borrowers who change majors twice are more likely to default on their loans. Weigh this decision carefully, including these factors:

Are you choosing something you like? To put it another way: Are you running to something or away from something?If you’ve discovered through elective courses that another major is more appealing to you, you’re on a good road. But if you’re unhappy with your current studies and just want out, you really only have half a plan.

How far along are you? Students who change majors during the first 60 credits have a better chance of transferring credits and coursework to a new major. Talk to your adviser about whether you can transfer blocks of credits from one program to another.

Does changing make sense? If you’re a semester or two from graduation, you might want to keep going toward your degree. Many graduates find that having a degree is more important to employers than what the specific degree is. Talk to people who work in your intended field—did they need a specific degree to land their jobs? Maybe a post-graduation internship could launch your career.

Start your summer internship search now!

Yes, now is the time to start looking and planning for summer internships. Here are some ways to find leads:   

Your school: Check with the job placement office. Also check with your adviser or other professors in your department.

Job fairs: Check campus and community calendars. These events often include internship opportunities.

Job shadowing: Is there a company or organization where you’d particularly like to do an internship? See if you can arrange a job shadow day to establish some contacts.

Web search: can connect you with internships at nonprofit organizations. catalogs opportunities with the federal government. lets you search by region.

Paid or unpaid? Many internships are unpaid, which is legal as long as the job is similar to training in an educational environment and is for the benefit of the intern. If an internship is paid, interns must be paid at least the federal minimum wage plus overtime.

Printed from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website on May 25, 2018 at 12:12am.