You wish that you had a long-lost rich uncle, or at least a winning lottery ticket, that could help you pay for your education. But the reality is that your education investment meant taking out some student loans and now you’re worried about paying them. Student loan debt can feel intimidating, but it’s easier to manage than you may think. All it takes is a little preparation, organization, knowledge, and a bit of discipline.
Keep Track of Your Student Loans
Once you accept a student loan as part of your financial aid, it’s easy to forget about it until—surprise!—your first bill is due. But don’t make that mistake. Keep track of the amount you borrow as well as what type of loans you accept. There are two different types of federal loans that you can borrow:
- Subsidized Loans— The government will pay the interest that these types of loans accrue while you are in school at least part-time, during your grace period, or during a period of forbearance.
- Unsubsidized Loans— You are responsible for paying all of the interest that these loans accrue from the start.
You can keep track of your student loans through studentaid.gov. It’s important to stay on top of this information so you know how much you’ll need to repay—and after you graduate, how much you’ll need to earn and the kind of repayment plan you should choose.
Make Student Loan Payments Before You Graduate
Did you know that you can start to pay back your loans while you are in school or during your grace period? While it’s not a requirement, it is a great way to get a head start on your payments. If you have unsubsidized loans, you can start to pay back some of the interest. If you have subsidized loans, your payments will count toward your principal balance, reducing both your principal and interest.
Consolidate Your Student Loans
If you have more than one student loan, you can consolidate them. What’s consolidation? It means that you essentially combine all of your loans into one so that you only have to make one payment per month on your total balance. It can make student loan management much easier in the long run. You can only consolidate your loans once you’re in the grace or repayment periods. You cannot consolidate both a federal student loan and a private student loan—this process is only available for federal loans.
Pick a Student Loan Repayment Plan
Before you enter into repayment, you’ll need to choose a repayment plan that will work for you and your budget. Your repayment period will begin six months after you graduate or if you fall below part-time enrollment in school. You’ll automatically be put on the Standard Repayment Plan, but if you’re on a budget, you’ll probably want to try for an income-based payment plan that takes the amount of money you earn into account. On the other hand, if you want to pay your loans off faster—and can afford to do so—you could opt for a higher payment and a shorter repayment period.
Keep a Loan Payment Schedule
Your student loan payments affect your credit score. Just like any other bill, you’ll need to pay the full amount due each month, on time. Keep track of your payment due date through a calendar app or planner so you never miss a payment. Or you could sign up for automatic payments and have the money deducted from your bank account. If you need to change your payment due date, contact your loan servicer and ask for a new date that may work better for your budget. If you can’t make a payment for any reason, you can ask for a deferment or forbearance. What’s the difference?
- Deferment—You can ask for deferment when you go through a significant financial hardship such as losing your job. If granted, you’ll be allowed to temporarily stop making payments and interest will not accrue during that time.
- Forbearance—You can request forbearance when your financial hardship is temporary, but interest will continue to accrue on your loans during that time.
Neither option is guaranteed—you must submit your request and financial paperwork to your loan servicer who will decide if you qualify. If you’re unsure what repayment options would be best for you, contact your servicer. Their job is to assist you during your repayment period.
At YTI Career Institute in Pennsylvania, we want to help you too. As an accredited institution, we accept financial aid including student loans. Learn more about our financial aid department or fill out the form to learn more about our programs.