For some of you, the last 6 months has been a whirlwind: you graduated from college; may have moved into a new apartment; potentially have started your first real 8 to 5 job and might just wish you were back in school. Now you are ready for another first in the next phase of your life: paying off your student loans. If you have been paying attention to the emails, phone calls or letters you have been receiving from your student loan lenders then you know that if you graduated in May, the 6 month grace period on your loans is coming to an end and you are about to enter repayment status. This means your first actual payment on the your loan(s) will soon be due. If you haven’t been keeping up with the totals, the initial shock might be a bit overwhelming, but here are a few things to remember that should help you through this.
- Build a budget! During your six month grace period start looking at how your monthly student loan payments fit into your budget. Building a budget will help you manage all of your payments.
- Read your mail! I am saying this loosely to include all contact and correspondence from the organization who services your loan. This would include emails, text messages, phone calls, snail mail, whatever mail. If they are sending it to you, it’s important to open it and respond to it! This information will include where your loans are, how much you owe, and when your first payment is due. Kind of important, people!!!
- Pay attention! When you attend your debt management sessions, be sure to pay attention. Federal loans require exit counseling, and some private loans may also have a counseling session to help you understand the details of your debt and how repayment works. You will also learn about the different options available if you are not able to make payments, including deferment and forbearance options.
- Keep in touch! You have probably heard this before but it cannot be stressed enough. It is your responsibility to keep in touch with the organization who services your loan. This means, updating them with current phone number, address, email, etc. If you run into problems, no one can help you if they don’t know how to contact you.
- Ask for help before it’s too late! Be proactive; the earlier you can communicate that you are having problems making payments, the more options you may have. Believe it or not, the organization who services your loan wants to see you succeed. The more proactive you are, the easier it will be to work with you.
These are quick universal tips to anyone who is getting ready to make payments on their student loans. The main point I want to get across is that you are ultimately responsible for repaying the debt. The more proactive you are with keeping in touch and asking for help the easier it will be to manage your debt. The owners of your loans want to see you succeed in repaying the debt but they can not help you if they can not get in touch with you. These are just a few of the tips I like to share, does anyone else have some they would like to share?