Graduation is an exciting life achievement for every student. However, the celebration can be short-lived as most student loan payments start to kick in soon after you get your diploma. Whether you just graduated or have recently started repaying your student loans, having some good resources and tips in your pocket for keeping your loan debt under control will keep you out of financial turmoil. With some simple strategies, you can avoid fees and extra interest costs, keep your payments manageable, and protect your credit rating.
Dealing with student loan debt can be overwhelming. However, it’s essential for your financial health to take control of your situation and ensure you can make your minimum payments. Working with a skilled student loan lawyer is the best way to figure out a repayment plan that is best for you. Here are 5 tips for recent Arizona grads with student loans.
Figure out the Ins and Outs of Your Loans
Start by learning everything about your loans. This includes keeping track of the lender, loan balance, and repayment status for each of your student loans. These details will determine your eligibility for certain repayment and forgiveness programs. You can log in to StudentLoans.gov to retrieve these details for any federal loans you have. If some of your loans aren’t listed it means they’re probably private loans. To get all the details on these loans, look at your recent billing statements. If you can’t find any records, you can contact your school to get your loan details.
Figure Out if You Have a Grace Period
Some loans provide a grace period after graduation in which you don’t have to make loan payments. For example, federal Stafford loans have a six-month grace period whereas federal Perkins loans have a nine-month grace period. Grace periods for private loans vary depending on the loan terms. If you have private student loans, you can contact your lender to figure out what your grace period is. Knowing your grace period will ensure you don’t miss your first payment.
Develop Good Communication with Your Lender
It’s important to communicate with your lender. If you move, change your phone number, or start to use a different email address, tell your lender right away. If your lender doesn’t have accurate contact information, you can end up missing bills. Be sure to read every piece of mail you receive about your loans.
Choose the Best Repayment Option for You
Federal loans are automatically based on a 10-year repayment plan. If this standard repayment plan is going to be hard for you to afford, there are other options you can explore to lower your monthly payment. Extending your repayment period beyond 10 years can set your monthly payment at a lower rate, but this comes at the cost of paying more in interest over the loan’s lifespan. Students with federal loans can often qualify for income-driven repayment plans (IDRs), which set monthly payments at a reasonable percentage of their income.
Unfortunately, private loans are not eligible for IDRs or other federal loan repayment options. However, students with private loans can work with their lenders to work out some type of forbearance or interest-only payments for a period of time.
If You’re Struggling, Don’t Ignore Your Loans
If you are struggling to make payments on your loans, it’s important to not let panic get the best of you. Taking action when you start to foresee a problem with paying your loans is the best way to protect yourself from getting into a negative financial situation. Whether you are experiencing unemployment, health problems, or other unexpected financial challenges, it’s important to know you have options for taking control of your situation.
There are many ways to temporarily postpone federal loan payments, including deferment and forbearance. If you are experiencing economic hardship, these may be good options for you to pursue that could prevent a default on your loans. However, it’s always a good idea to seek an outside opinion from a professional, as interest can still accrue on your loans, increasing your total debt. That being said, your number one priority during times of financial hardship should be avoiding a default on your loans. When you default, the entirety of your loan balance becomes due, ruining your credit score and increasing the total amount you owe drastically. Additionally, if you have federal student loans and default, the government can directly garnish your wages.
Contact a Skilled Arizona Student Lawyer Today
Student loans are complicated, and it can be challenging to educate yourself on all the variables and factors that compose your loan agreement and terms. If you are struggling to make your monthly payments, you should seek professional guidance from a student loan attorney. A student loan lawyer can explain all the factors of your loan and the best strategies for locking in a monthly payment that is best for you.
At McCarthy Law, our attorneys are dedicated to helping students navigate the complexities of the student loan system. Under our student loan debt settlement program, our licensed attorneys negotiate with lenders to ensure our clients pay only a fraction of their original loan balance. To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled student loan settlement attorneys, call (855) 976-5777 or fill out our online contact form.