If you read the news, you are certain to have come across stories of new graduates suffering with student loan debt. Integrating a loan payment into your life during the time after college and possibly before you have landed your dream job can become strenuous on your finances to say the least. However, studies show that despite the sky is falling news we hear about student debt, student loan payments are manageable for the vast majority of students. You can be one of these students too!
Read on to learn ways that you can take charge of your student loan payments and keep your head above water.
In order to avoid landing in student loan payment trouble, arm yourself with knowledge before hand. It's important to be loan smart and choose a loan with low interest rates that offers the most benefits. Federal student loans are a great first option to look at because they tend to have low fixed interest rates and many flexible repayment plans. Although federal loans are great, they may not be enough to cover the entire cost of tuition. Shop around for additional student loans to get the best ones that will suit your and your family's needs. When you take your entrance and exit counseling, pay attention! There is a wealth of knowledge to gain about how to handle your federal student loans if you are having trouble making payments.
Even if you don't see any impending loan payment danger, it's important to properly maintain your student loan payments. Talk with your loan servicer from the start to set a payment plan that will work best for you on your federal loans. If you have non-federal loans, your repayment options may be more limited but some lenders offer deferment, forbearance and even income-based repayment to help you out if you get in a sticky situation.
Keep in touch with your loan servicer on a regular basis to stay abreast of important information about your loan and to keep your contact information up to date with them. Even if you don't receive a statement for your student loan, you are still obligated to pay it so avoidance is not the answer.
Be sure to stay on top of everything you owe. View all federal student loan balances on the National Student Loan Data System. For non federal loans, pull your credit report to see your private student loan balances. If you find that paying on all of your student loans separately is too much of a hassle, consider consolidating or refinancing your student loans. Consolidating can get you a fixed interest rate and one payment for all of your federal student loans. Refinancing is typically for all of your non-federal student loans, and you need to be careful to compare rates, fees and terms before choosing a refinancing option. Take precaution of consolidating federal loans with private loans, as this can eradicate your access to the benefits of federal student loans such as unemployment deferment or loan forgiveness.
Once you begin to notice any signs that you are in over your head with student loan payments, take action immediately. Contact your loan servicer to discuss your options. For federal loans, there are options available that can temporarily suspend payments (deferment or forbearance) or reduce payments. There may even be a way for your loan to be forgiven if you are public servant or teacher and have made qualifying payments for at least ten years through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. There may even be loan forgiveness for those who are unemployed due to a disability. Federal loans offer all sorts of income-based repayment plans, extended repayment, and graduated repayment. Never ignore you loan payment. A simple call can solve your problems.
As for non-federal loans, call each of your lenders or services and see what is available to help you pay your loans. Keep in mind that falling behind on your loans can affect your cosigner too so have an earnest conversation with them if you are finding it hard to make your payments and see if he or she is able to chip in.
Becoming delinquent and defaulting on your student loan payments can severely damage your credit and can possibly lead other consequences such as legal suits, collection calls, and even wage garnishment. Do all you can to rectify the situation before the loan defaults.
Want more tips on how to manage your budget? Visit the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority's Financial Literacy site and take charge of your financial future.