Here are five things that you should know about your student loans.
It’s no surprise that the majority of college students have taken out student loans. According to the Student Loan Report, 70 percent of 2017 college graduates borrowed to finance their education. For many students, the thought of paying back their loans might be stressful or overwhelming, especially once the reality of making monthly payments sets in after graduation.
The good news is that there are ways to manage the debt – and stress – associated with your loans. Whether you're a new or returning student, staying on top of your student loan payments can make it easier to manage your student debt—even before you graduate.
There are alternative, more affordable repayment plans. If you’re worried that your future monthly payments might become too much of a financial strain, don’t fret. The Department of Education offers income-driven repayment plans, which are meant to be more affordable. Income-driven repayment plans include lower monthly payments that are based on your financial status and family size. As your income adjusts, so will your payments. Each year you’ll need to recertify your income with your loan servicer, and your loan servicer will send you a reminder each year when it’s time for you to recertify.
You may qualify for a deferment or forbearance. Many students worry that they may not be able to make their monthly payments if they do not find a job immediately after graduation. Luckily, there are options to help you postpone or reduce your monthly payments so that you don’t default on your loans. Deferment allows you to temporarily stop making your federal student loan payments, while forbearance allows you to reduce the amount that you owe each month. Interest does not accrue on subsidized loans during deferment, so this option might allow you to save you some money in the long run. To learn more, visit the Department of Education's website or call your loan servicer to find out if you might be eligible for deferment or forbearance.
It’s important to stay organized. If you’re unsure who your federal student loan servicer is, you can create an account with the National Student Loan Data System at https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/, which will provide information about your loan servicer, the type of loan you have and the amount that you owe. Forbes recommends creating a list of who you owe, your minimum monthly payment, the due date for your payments, and the website you’ll need to go to when you need to make a payment. Update this list regularly and be sure to check on the status of your payments and your account details each month.
You can consolidate your loans. It can be difficult to keep track of your loans, especially if you have more than one loan servicer. You may want to consider completing a consolidation application, which combines multiple loans into a new loan with one loan servicer. You can apply for loan consolidation online at www.studentloans.gov.
You need to update your contact information with your loan servicer. When borrowers don’t make payments on their student loans, federal student loan servicers will contact the borrower and offer assistance to bring their account up to date. If you aren’t receiving notices from your loan servicer, they may have wrong contact information. It’s important to notify your loan servicer of changes in your address—especially if you relocate post-graduation—so that you receive all important notices and you don’t default on your loans.
Staying informed about your student loan repayment options is the first step towards reducing any debt-related stress. Herzing University’s Alumni Support Center assists students with the management of student loans. Staff members are always available to assist you with contacting your federal student loan servicer, finding the best repayment solution or answering any other federal student loan questions. Contact Alumni Support at 866-508-0748 x 01353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dani Madson works in Herzing University’s Alumni Support Center. She graduated from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and is an expert in successful management of federal student loans.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.