Unless you were lucky enough to get enough scholarship and grant money to cover your educational expenses (or you come from a super-rich family) it is likely that you had to take out student loans. It’s easy to not think about them while still in school, but once you graduate or fall below half-time status, you have to pay them back after your grace period. This can seem overwhelming, but using these tips for managing student debt can help you make strides in lowering what you owe.
1. Know what you owe
The first step to getting your debt in check is knowing exactly what you owe. Sign into your loan provider account for the most up-to-date information on what you owe and when your payments are due. Keeping tabs on what you owe will help you budget what you can spend on other expenses while paying your debt off.
2. Pay off interest while in your grace period
Grace periods usually last for three to six months after you graduate or drop below half-time status. If possible, pay off your interest during this time. Not only is this one of the most proactive tips for managing student debt and a great practice for making loan payments, but it will actually help you lower the total amount you will have to pay later. This will also reduce the number of years you will be in debt.
3. Get at least some kind of job
Even if you are struggling to find something in your field right away, getting a job allows you to have an income while you are looking. If you are in your grace period, put the money aside to save for when you have to start making loan payments. Even setting a portion of your paycheck aside for your loans can make a difference. Know how much you owe and set aside a portion of each paycheck that will cover this amount.
4. Create and stick to a budget
When you are not thinking about debt, you feel more free to spend money as opposed to saving it. However, making a budget and sticking to it is crucial when managing debt so you do not incur any further debt. Write down your monthly expenses and your income. If your expenses are higher than your income, make necessary adjustments to reverse this.
5. Stay in touch with your loan provider
Being in contact with your loan provider is key. If you are having trouble making payments, your loan provider can help you choose another repayment option or walk you through things that can be done to help you. Keeping them up to date with personal information is vital for every step of paying off your debt.
6. Tackle your loans proactively
Taking a proactive approach to paying off your debt will help you in the long run. Paying off the loans with the highest interest rates first and paying even a little more than you owe each month can make a huge difference in the long run. These steps help you reduce what you owe in the future and can help you pay off your loans faster, ultimately reducing the amount of interest you will pay.
What are your personal tips for managing student debt? Let us all know in the comments below!
Ashley is a recent graduate from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA with her Bachelor's in journalism. She love writing articles about music and Philadelphia. Ashley would love to pursue a career in journalism in New York City.