Graduating college is a huge, exciting milestone worth celebrating — but the unfortunate downside most graduates today face is having to pay back student loans after their college career ends. We’ve put together some pointers to help make the process easier, as well as some important things to keep in mind.
First things first: Ignoring your loans will not make them go away, so it’s wise be proactive. Start by figuring out what you will owe and how much your monthly payment will be. Once you have a good idea of what will be expected of you, start looking into your options for repayment, including:
- Loan forgiveness. There are special programs for those who work full-time in a public service job. Some jobs that qualify include teachers, government employees, or nonprofits.
- Employee benefit. Some employers are beefing up their benefit packages with loan repayment assistance. When you’re interviewing, ask about the benefits package. This may help you when choosing between offers.
- Standard repayment. You will pay a monthly fixed amount over the course of 10 years.
- Graduated repayment. Payments start small and increase along with your income.
- Extended repayment. Depending on your income, you may be able to lower your monthly payment but extend the term to 25 years instead of 10.
There are a couple of strategies that can help you repay your loan faster or lower your payment. Refinancing your current loans at a lower interest rate may create a significant savings. Another strategy is to make additional principal-only payments, which will reduce the amount of interest you pay over time. You can either schedule an additional payment each month or do it occasionally when you get an influx of cash from a bonus or tax refund.
Student loans may seem daunting, but with a proper plan in place and some smart budgeting, you’ll be on your way to repayment in no time.
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