It's that magical time of year when caps are thrown in the air and the world seems full of possibility. Ah, graduation, at long last! Fast-forward six months. If you used federal financial aid loans to cover tuition and other school-related expenses, your first payments are now due. Just like a mortgage or car loan, a student loan impacts your credit score. Staying current on loan repayment is critical to building a solid financial foundation.
Hopefully, you've secured a wonderful job and are on your way towards achieving greatness. If you are still working on it, rest assured there are several loan repayment options available to you. Different programs and consolidation options offer flexibility in monthly terms and overall duration. Deferment and forbearance opportunities may also exist depending on your specific financial situation. In some circumstances, including certain kinds of teaching services, forgiveness, cancellation and discharge options may be obtainable.
The first step in the process will often be calculating the amount of your loan repayments. The U.S. Department of Education provides a repayment estimator tool to help calculate this figure. Adding the projected expense to your monthly budget is a great way to plan ahead.
Contacting your loan servicer is the ideal starting point for understanding your immediate options. Be sure to remain in communication with your loan service provider, updating them of any changes to your home, phone, email or other contact information.You may also visit studentaid.gov/repay-loans to visualize the full scope and nature of loan repayment options. Regardless of your situation, use the valuable skills you learned while achieving your degree to research and evaluate various alternatives. This is an important step towards building a secure financial future.
There are also some programs that allow for a portion of your student debt to be forgiven. For example the Stafford Loan forgiveness program for teachers excuses up to $17,500 of a qualifying educator's student loan amount. Look into other repayment programs that may be offered by your employer. In addition to careers in academia, the public service industry often has similar incentives.
The key to any repayment process is to weigh all of the options and have a plan before you begin allocating funds. In addition to your loan servicer, personal accountants, financial planners and even your peers can be great resources for information. Remember to find out if your career field offers programs to help cover a portion of your student loan amount. Congratulations on achieving your degree! Stay connected with your school network and share personal stories of success with fellow alumni and new graduates.