Student debt is a crisis in America; in 1990, less than half of college graduates took out student loans. In 2019, 44 million borrowers owe a collective $1.5 billion, and many young adults are left grappling with the crippling anxiety and fear that comes from starting off life with such massive financial responsibility.
Many students do not realize just how much money they owe until they graduate. The average college graduate leaves university with over $35,000 in student debt. That is likely almost as much as their first salary, before taxes. Although reducing the monthly payment to a manageable amount is feasible, many students are naturally anxious about the prospect of accruing massive interest and being trapped in the cycle of repaying their debt for literal decades.
Tips to Manage Student Debt
The first thing to do is explore payment options. A student should begin to learn about their possible methods of repayment before they graduate. If possible, payments should be made before graduation as the loans are currently not collecting any interest.
There are many income-based payment plans that will help students begin to build financial stability as they start their careers without being crippled by debt repayments. An additional payment agreement can be established that will forgive all loans after paying on-time for 25 years.
Federal student loan consolidation can make repayment more manageable by lowering the overall interest rate. However, it’s recommended to never combine private student loan debt with federal loans. Certain borrower benefits and forgiveness plans may be cancelled after consolidation, so it’s important to discuss the pros and cons of each with every separate lender.
Using the Grace Period
Making payments during the six-month grace period after graduation can help lower the total amount due, but it can also be a wise time to invest money that will be going toward debt in the future into a savings account.
In the event of job loss or other emergencies, having additional funds in savings will offer financial stability without sacrificing loan payments and the associated consequences.
Developing a budget before loan repayment will make it easier to live within means in the future. Interest rates should also be taken into consideration as many students do not accurately estimate how much they will have to repay after graduation.
Whenever extra money is available, paying back more than the agreed-upon amount can be useful. Speaking with a representative at each loan provider can help borrowers develop a repayment method that works for them and their budget.