Student loan debt has become an epidemic of sorts. These loans can be hefty and ultimately stressful. Many young people in America are scared to even make a monthly payment on their student loans. It could seem impossible to deal with due to the enormous balance that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.
When you are young you are impressionable. Today’s millenials are no exception. Accruing student loan debt is seen as a necessary burden essential to achieving their careers. Many find themselves employed following college. However, according to CareerBuilder.com about half of college graduates in 2014 were employed in jobs that do not require a college degree.
To make things worse the student loan lenders begin hounding their “clients” immediately after graduating. If you are one of these clients you probably know by now that nothing in this world comes easier than debt. The chances of you having money to pay your student loan debts so soon is quite slim.
Before leaving high school these young, impressionable people are lead to believe a college education will lead to a guaranteed career. Turns out, it is not that simple. The Washington Post reported in 2013, according to data from Jaison Abel and Richard Dietz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only 27% of college graduates had jobs related to their major. If this comes as a rude awakening to you I apologize. There is no one simple way to make your dream job come true and your student loan debts disappear. However, it takes action, commitment and it is possible.
Dealing with the Debt
Student loans. If reading those two words infuriates you don’t worry. It should. Paying off student loans may seem impossible but there are ways you can help yourself out. The first thing you need to do is understand what type of loan you have. Some loans are eligible for certain benefits which may assist your situation.
For Federal Loans
Check out the National Student Loan Data System (NSLD). This website is home to the U.S Department of Education’s database for student aid. Only federal student loans are eligible for this aid. In my experience I’ve talked to more individuals with federal loans than those with private ones.
Managing your Payment
Deferment or Forbearance
A good idea for those who are unemployed or “between jobs” is deferment or forbearance. A deferment or forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making your federal student loan payments or to temporarily reduce the amount you pay. This could be helpful if you are in danger of defaulting on your loan. A default occurs when you have not made your monthly payments for an extended period of time. In the case of a default, the lender make execute legal action in order to get their money back.
If you are eligible for deferment, the federal government may pay the interest on your loans during the deferment period. The opposite goes for a forbearance. In a forbearance you may be able to lower your payments or stop payments completely for up to 12 months.
These options can give you room to breathe and pursue the career you studied so long to achieve.
Other Payment Plans
There are other options available to help get your monthly payments decreased to a manageable level. There are income-based repayment plans for people with direct loans or Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans. In an income-based repayment program your monthly payments can be reduced to 10% of your monthly income. In most cases the loan is forgiven after 25 years in these programs.
Depending on your situation, there may be a repayment plan out there that best suits you. Head over to the Federal Student Aid website and browse their listings of payment plans.
Student loan consolidation is a viable option for people with more than one student loan. If your student loans have varying interest rates and minimum monthly payments you should look into a Direct Consolidation Loan. Just like traditional debt consolidation (read more: “Get Out of Debt” Programs ), a direct consolidation loan combines multiple federal student loans into one loan with one payment and interest rate. These loans can stretch the amount of time you have to pay the loan, thus lowering your monthly payment. You will also get a fixed rate on your interest instead of dealing with variable rates.
Consolidation does have its down sides. You may be more comfortable with the monthly payments but, you will end up paying more in the long run due to the interest rate. If your individual loans had attached benefits you will lose those as well.
Focus on the Future
You may not have planned on dealing with student debt when you were leaving high school. With most people it seems to sneak up on them as soon as the leave college. No matter what your student debt situation is there are programs available to help you manage it. You deserve to focus on the future and work towards your career goals instead of worrying about monthly payments. Good luck and keep coming back to Dean Myerow Finance for more personal finance tips and insight.