4 Tips for Managing Student Loan Debt for Recent College Graduates
Walking across the stage and receiving your college degree is a big step into adulthood. Gone is the structure of education, replaced by the uncertainty of finding your first professional career!
But one thing that is a certainty for many young adults after graduation is student loan debt.
While the U.S. Department of Education recently extended the student loan pause, as it currently stands, payments will need to resume after August 31st, 2022. Though there’s still some time before this happens, it’s helpful to be prepared.
In the hyper-competitive world we live in, many people feel that a degree is a baseline requirement for employment. And though higher education can certainly be beneficial in the long run, it can also be costly up-front. We strongly advise our clients to try and make sure their students don't take on any more in student loan debt than what will be manageable on their anticipated future salary. Understanding the metrics of the college investment can go a long way towards making sure you graduate on time and with a minimal amount of debt.
But millions of students still end up taking on large amounts of student loan debt to finance their education. If this applies to you, the question is, what can you do to stay abreast of your student loan debt and keep it from cramping your journey into adult life? Here are a few helpful tips:
1.) Don’t Freeze
That large number will slowly shrink as you chip away at it. Just get started, keep on top of your payments, and try not to default. If you’re able to make larger payments on your principal, it will help reduce your interest more quickly. Stay positive, and imagine the sense of satisfaction that will come with finally paying your loans off!
2.) Ask for Advice
Remember that you aren’t alone and that millions of others just like you have experienced the repayment process. Consider talking with people that have paid off their student debt, or joining a group with other graduates that are on their loan repayment journey.
Resources like The Federal Student Aid website are filled with information on the repayment process and can help you understand how it works and how to start paying off your debt most efficiently.
Consider consulting with a financial professional to create a plan for debt repayment. They can help you identify your short-term and long-term goals, and develop a strategy that helps you stay on track even when life doesn’t go as planned.
4.) Be Realistic
When you do finally land a job in your chosen field, it’s easy to say that you’ll live on a shoestring budget to pay off your debt. But you should aim to be realistic, and create a budget that considers your needs and wants and also allows you to live within your means.
This may make it tempting to pay the bare minimum on your debt, but setting your goals higher can help you save interest in the long term. You can even make extra payments if you have additional funds since there are no formal penalties for prepayment.
Paying off student loans doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By developing a strategy and enlisting help when needed, you can work towards tackling your repayment while still enjoying life. If you have questions about starting your debt repayment journey, consider talking to a financial professional.
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