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Last updateThu, 20 Apr 2017 10am

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Plan for Payments: A Look Into Student Loan Debt

Plan For PaymentsPaying off student loans is a feat that most student loan borrowers must face just six months after graduation, as the average student loan from a 4-year college in 2016 was approximately $37,100, according to studentloanhero.com.

Upon graduation, a student must pick a particular plan to pay off their student loans, according to an article published by nerdwallet.com. There are eight different plans a student can choose from to repay their federal student loans, including four that are based on income level.

The basic payment plans include standard, graduated and extended plans. Unless a student elects otherwise, they will be placed on the standard repayment plan, which is ten years for many companies, according to the article. This would mean that the average student will pay approximately $259 per month, on a 10 year standard plan.

According to Kristen Isaksen, Associate Director of Financial Aid, students should utilize resources such as studentaid.ed.gov and nelnetloanservicing.com for helpful options regarding loan repayment. “These sites will provide you with repayment calculators, loan servicer information and the different repayment plans,” said Isaksen. “Knowing who your loan servicer is, when repayment begins and which payment plan is right for your situation is key.”

Peter Reinhart, Director of the Kislak Real Estate Institute, said that it is important for borrowers to understand the small “fine print” that each loan provider sets in place. If a student undertakes a loan that he/she is simply unfit to handle, it can severely damage their credit score.

“Students and parents should be diligent in repaying the loans and being aware of their rights and obligations,” said Reinhart. “Besides the potential legal issues with a delinquent loan, the impact of a bad loan on a student’s credit report is just as bad as a bad credit report impacts other parts of life, including the ability to get a job. Employers will look negatively upon a prospective applicant with a negative credit report,” he continued.

QUOTE FROM CAREER SERVICES ABOUT CREDIT SCORE

Students can also choose to refinance their loan. Typically, multiple loans can be accompanied with multiple interest rates. In the process of refinancing, students may be able to consolidate their multiple loans into one low interest rate.

Students can also aim to defer loans, meaning a temporarily postponement of their payments if they plan on returning to school, or are unemployed. Additionally, students can sign up for student loan forgiveness. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program forgives the remaining balance on a loan after the student has made 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full-time for a qualifying employer.

According to Isaksen, students can follow there students. “All of the loan servicers, as well as Federal Student Aid, are on social media,” said Isaksen. “If you follow them, you’ll receive tips and information on a daily basis,” he added.

As stated by nelnet.com, students should educate themselves regarding certain strategies of repayment. For example, the site recommends that students begin paying off their loans while in school. Even if it is only a few hundred dollars, it can certainly help in the long run. Repayment is substantially easier when the overall sum of debt is lower. Additionally, it is important that students create and follow a monthly budget in order to keep track of their money.

Students are also advised to create a comprehensive plan that outlines precisely when payments are going to be made. It is wise for students to become familiar with their repayment options, as many providers will allow users to customize their own repayment process, according to the site.

Additionally, students should acknowledge the fact that there are different types of loans. For example, accrued interest for subsidized loans is paid by the government while you’re in school, but unsubsidized loans require immediate interest repayment.

“With the price of college in today’s day and age, it is almost inevitable for someone to graduate college without having any student loans,” said Kristen Jezycki, a senior marine biology student. “My advice would be to start saving up money as soon as possible and make small payments toward the loans whenever you can to lessen the burden you will have later in life,” she suggested.

Jeremy Colon, a junior criminal justice student, said that borrowers should not underestimate the gravitas of the loan. Just because it is easy to brush aside doesn’t mean that is responsible. “A loan is just that: a loan. It is easy to forget about them and push them to the back of your mind when you’re currently in school, but try your best to monitor them and get a feel for what you’re eventually going to have to pay back,” said Colon. “Just do your best to be as aware as possible,” he warned.

photo courtesy of Yasir Alsaedi

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