New college graduates are entering one of the worst job markets in generations. Many graduates are having trouble finding any job at all and the ones that do find jobs are often working outside of their field of study or making much less than they thought they would be making after graduation. To these individuals, paying off their student loan debt can seem like an impossible task that they will never be able to accomplish. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make paying student loan debt more manageable and less stressful.
Determine How Much You Really Owe
Many students rely on a combination of federal loans, personal loans, grants, and scholarships to fund their college education. Because money is obtained from several different sources, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much you owe. Some students vastly underestimate the amount that must be repaid and face a painful shock once they graduate and must begin repaying the loans. By keeping an accurate accounting of the amount that you owe and understanding what that means for your monthly repayment schedule, you will be better prepared to tackle repayment head on and eventually eliminate your student loan debt.
Examine Your Repayment Options
Many types of tuition assistance loans have a variety of repayment options available that can help you make your payments more affordable. These alternative options can help you avoid becoming delinquent on your payments or defaulting on your loans, two actions that can have serious consequences for your credit score. Income based repayment programs cap your payments at a percentage of your current income. While this can extend your payment time and subject you to more interest over the long run, your immediate payments are more affordable and your risk of default will be reduced.
In some cases, you might be able to receive employer tuition reimbursement. This situation usually arises when you attend school while working at a job in a related field. Once you graduate, your employer might repay some of your tuition to help ease the burden of your student loans. Some organizations have a tuition reimbursement program in place, so all you will have to do is ask about the company’s reimbursement policy. If your organization does not have a program in place, try speaking with your employer about the benefits of such a program to see if there is any chance of establishing one.
Communicate With Your Lender
If there is a reason that you cannot make your student loan payments, talk to your lender to see if there are any other options available that could be beneficial to both you and the lender. Some lenders have forbearance options available, where you do not have to make payments for a certain period of time to allow you to get your finances back on track, such as after the loss of a job. You may also be able to get your payments deferred if you are unemployed, are in graduate school, or are on active duty for the military. Depending on your situation, there may be a reasonable option available that can make it easier for you to avoid going into default on your student loans.
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