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You Have Student Loan Debt - Now What?

Education is key when dealing with student loan debt. The more you know the better you will be able to handle your repayment obligations.

Kizzy Preston

September 13, 2013

You Have Student Loan Debt - Now What?
When you first apply for financial aid for college, you may feel like student loans are a great option. The idea of paying back the loans seems like a distant reality. Surely, you will be able to pay the loans back without any problems, right? After graduation the truth sets in. Depending on how much money you borrowed while in school, paying off the loans may not be as quick or easy as you first imagined. Suddenly you are receiving letters in the mail requesting payments that you may not be able to afford. Now what? Education is key when dealing with student loan debt. The more you know the better you will be able to handle your repayment obligations.

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Here are some important tips for managing student loan debt: • Know your options If you can’t pay your loans back right away there are many arrangements you could make with the loan holder. Is your monthly payment amount too high for your budget? Can you not pay at all? Why can’t you pay? Are you out of work? There are solutions to these problems.

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You may be eligible for a deferment or forbearance on your loan. You could also work to change your payment amounts to make repayment more manageable. There are several options for how you will pay your student loans back, and at what rate. Contact your loan provider to see what option is best for you.
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Whenever possible pay more than your required payment amount on your student loan. The extra money will be applied to the principal balance. Because there is an interest rate attached to your loan, the longer you take to pay the total balance off that’s the more interest you end up paying. It is very easy for a principal amount of $20,000 to turn into payments equaling $40,000 due to interest being added to the loan. • Loan Forgiveness Certain careers are given loan forgiveness. Loan forgiveness erases some or all of your student loan debt because you work in a particular field. Find out if you are eligible for loan forgiveness and follow the necessary steps to remove your student loan debt. • Consolidate If you have student loans through different companies consolidation might be right for you. With a consolidation, only one company will hold your student loan debt. You can often consolidate for an interest rate that is lower than the ones you had. This way you have only one student loan payment every month. • Don’t default Whatever you do, stay on top of your student loan debt. Ignoring the letters in the mail will not make the debt go away. It is important to respond to notices and seek payment arrangements as early as possible. The repercussions for defaulting on student loan debt are far reaching, including garnishments and having your annual tax refund taken. If you file for bankruptcy, student loan debt will not be included in it. Student loans are often helpful if the student borrows wisely, by never accepting more funding than is needed. When it is time to repay, the same care must be taken to ensure that you are not in debt any longer than you need to be.

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