On average, college graduates have approximately $37,000 in student loan debt, according to Cappex.com. Most student loan companies allow students a grace period after graduation of six months to one year before they start requiring payments. However, it is important to get your student loans in order immediately after graduation so that you know what to expect down the road.
Below are six things recent grads should be doing to prepare for their student loan repayment.
- Get organized. Most students graduate with anywhere between eight and ten separate student loans. As a result, many tend to lose track of their total loan amount by the time they graduate. If you have only taken out loans through the federal government, you can find everything you need to know on the National Student Loan Database System website. This site will simplify your loans in terms of breaking down exactly how much you owe and when you took out each loan. However, if you have also taken out private student loans, it is best to check your credit report. This will show you the status of each loan, the date you opened it and your remaining balances. Also, make sure you note the interest rates for each individual loan.
- Determine the Best Monthly Payment for You. Now that you know how much you owe, it is time to determine how much you can afford to pay each month. If you do not select a repayment option, your lender will put you on a standard 10-year repayment plan. When deciding how much you can afford to pay each month, it is best to select highest payment you can afford. This will potentially save you thousands in interest. However, if it means you cannot afford to put money into a retirement fund or a savings account, opt for a lower payment.
- Stay on Top of Your Payments. Although student loans take longer to default than other debts, it will negatively impact your credit store if you miss a few payments.
- Be Strategic in Paying Off Your Loans. If you have extra money to put toward your student loans, put it toward the loan with the highest interest rate. Also, if you pay extra one month, contact the company to be sure they put the additional amount toward the principal balance. Otherwise, they may treat it as the next month’s payment.
- Consider Consolidation. Before you consolidate your loans, make sure you take your interest rates into account. If you have some loans with higher interest rates than others, it might not be the best move to consolidate. If you combine your loans and pay extra some months, you can no longer put the additional amount toward the loan with the higher interest rate.
- Educate Yourself on Deferment and Forbearance. Deferment refers to the period when your payments are placed on temporary hold. Sometimes interest does not accrue during the deferment period. Deferment is typically available to students who have enrolled in grad school, are unemployed or experiencing economic hardship. On the other hand, forbearance is what you apply for if you are ineligible for a deferment. This is a time period, typically 12 months, when interest is accrued and added to the principal balance.
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For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available. Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.