Managing one’s student loans is a personal process—everyone’s student loan package will look a bit different. If all of your loans are held by Sallie Mae, then you will have different options from someone who took out private student loans. And even different kinds of federal loans have different repayment terms.
Whatever your situation, consider the following when managing your student loans:
Get the Complete Picture
You want to know all of the loans you have, and all of the different terms that might apply. Logging in to www.nslds.ed.gov can show you all of your federal loans in one place. For private loans, you should be sent a billing statement, or you can consult the original paperwork you signed. Your school may be able to help you gather all of the information you need.
If your circumstances change, reach out to your lender(s) and let them know. Always respond when they call, even if you are struggling to repay them. The best time to deal with Student Loan problems is as soon as they occur. If you hid from your lender and don’t answer their calls, you’ll make things unnecessarily worse for yourself.
Keep Your Loans in Good Standing
There are a lot of repayment options for loans that can make your life easier, but most of them require your loans to be current. So don’t let yourself get behind or miss payments. As soon as you think you might fall behind, reach out for student loan counseling so a qualified nonprofit can help you come up with options. If you wait until after your loans are delinquent, some good options will be closed to you.
Consider Repayment Options
Those repayment options we just mentioned may be available to you right from the beginning. Income-Based Repayment or Pay as You Earn can lower your payments to an amount that is manageable for your current situation. And Public Service loan forgiveness can drastically reduce the overall cost of your loans if you work in a qualifying field.
Putting Off Repayment
Student loans may be eligible for deferments or forbearance if your situation warrants it. If you have no income, talk to a student loan counselor about these options to give yourself more time to find employment.
A consolidation loan will not always be a good idea—everyone should carefully consider that decision based on their unique circumstances. Get student loan counseling before making that decision to make sure it’s a good idea.
Managing student loans is no small task, especially with today’s sky-high student loan balances. Don’t go it alone if you are concerned about your ability to repay. A qualified nonprofit student loan counselor can help you explore all of your options and give you the best chance to successfully manage your student loans.