"Student Groans...I Mean Loans"
Annoyance, frustration, ill feelings, and downright anger. If you are a passenger on the student loan payback train, you've felt one of the ways I've described above I'm sure. Americans are more burdened by student loan debt than ever. Americans owe nearly $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, spread amongst 43 million borrowers, 2 of which live in my household. A necessary evil for some including myself to make my way through college. To be clear, I wouldn't be where I am today professionally if not for the funding of student loans and am appreciative for the ability to borrow to get closer to achieving my career goals. With that said, I'm 10 years removed from the last student loan I took out and I'm still paying back my loans along with my husband's loans. So in the spirit of being Cents Savvy over student loans, here are some ideas on how to manage your personal student loan debt.
1) Take stock of your loans - First things first I poppa....just kidding. But the first thing you should do if you have multiple loans with multiple student loan providers, create a list of all of your student loans with important loan detail (i.e. provider name, account number, balance, minimum payment, and due date). Not sure of all of the loans you owe? For federally-backed loans, visit nslds.ed.gov. If you have private loans, pull your credit report at annualcreditreport.com to see who you owe. This list should be incorporated into the monthly budget created from my previous budget post #actyourwage.
2) Setup payment plans - I remember getting my degree in the mail and like a week later getting a letter from one of my loan providers that said something like "Your loan repayment begins in 180 days and this is your payment. Congrats on your recent graduation, what an accomplishment!" The amount I was supposed to pay monthly was way more than I could afford given my new job salary. What's a girl to do? Set up a payment plan. Depending on your monthly income, you may qualify to have your student loan payments capped at 10%, 15% or 20% of your discretionary income and payment periods lengthened to 20 or 25 years. Reach out to your student loan providers for more information. Additionally, some loan providers will give you a reduction on your interest rate of approximately .25% if you set up an automatic recurring payment from you bank account. Also paying more than the minimum payment can help pay off the loan faster. Every little bit helps.
3) Take advantage of student loan forgiveness - Some federal student loans offer benefits that many other loans don't. One of the benefits is the ability to qualify for loan forgiveness—under special circumstances, the federal government may forgive part, or all, of your federal student loans. This means you're no longer obligated to make your loan payments. Some of the most common types of loan forgiveness programs include teacher loan forgiveness, public service loan forgiveness, and total/permanent disability discharge.
4) Sign up for free reward programs - Some lenders run programs that allow borrowers to earn cash back and pay down their debt through everyday purchases.
5) Refinance anyone? - If you’re in good credit standing, you could qualify to refinance your student loans to better terms. Stay tuned for my post on this along with the great debate to consolidate or not.
Your student loans are not going away. Sorry...not sorry. As many times as you avoid your loan providers calls, they will continue to hound you for payment, which they will get one way or the other. The best option is to stay on top of your loans, work them into your monthly budget, and continue to make payments until they are gone. Here's a little video to inspire us all to look forward to the day we pay off all these loans.