Congrats, seniors! You are about to graduate!! In the midst of all the preparations for graduation, moving out, starting that dream job, and basically building a brand new life, it can be so easy to forget all about those student loans you took out to pay for school. But it’s absolutely essential that you don’t ignore about them. In fact, the sooner you get a handle on them, the better your future will be.
Almost all college students have some student loan debt when they graduate. If you are one of them, here are three steps to get them under control. This information has been gleaned from Dave Ramsey’s podcast and his book The Total Money Makeover (both of which I highly recommend).
- Know Your Dates.
Some student loans repayments are delayed, meaning you may have a period of 1-6 months before you need to start making the payments. You must carefully review all the terms and find out exactly when you need to start paying them off, how much you need to pay, and how often.
- Prioritize Your Loans.
Here’s what I mean: arrange your debts smallest to largest in terms of how much money you actually owe. Make the minimum payments on all your student loans except the smallest one. On that loan, throw all the extra money you can at it until it is gone. Then do the same thing with the next smallest loan and so on. Paying off your debts smallest to largest gives you incremental goals to work toward and you start feeling like you’re making headway sooner rather than later. Don’t worry so much about what the interest rates are. In the grand scheme of things, those rates won’t make that much of a difference if you are consistent about paying.
3.Avoid Debt Consolidation and Don’t Declare Bankruptcy.
Debt consolidation can be a sketchy business and usually involves hefty fees and possibly some penalties depending on the type of debt you have. If you are already mercilessly chipping away at your loans, debt consolidation won’t do you much good anyway. Also, please note that declaring bankruptcy will not erase any of your student loan debt. Neither debt consolidation nor bankruptcy are easy, quick fixes. Both of these things are slow, painful, and can severely damage your credit.
Please be aware that I am not a financial expert or advisor. This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only.
Miriam Boyken is a third-year graduate student at Indiana University. She is currently working toward her Master’s degree in Kinesiology with emphases in Applied Sport Science and Physical Activity, Fitness, & Wellness. She recently started her own personal training business and hopes to grow it by leaps and bounds after she graduates in 2016. She is also happily married and enjoys distance running.
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