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4 Steps to Successful Student-Loan Repayment

Receiving a college education may be the single most important accomplishment that one may achieve in their entire life time.

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Here’s a smart one, plan on how you will repay your loans prior to engaging in them. Hind sight may be 20-20 but foresight is the preparation you can make to have no regrets going forward.

If  you have Federal or Direct Stafford loans, you are entitled to a  six-month period grace period before your first loan payment is due. By taking a few simple steps now to prepare for that first payment, you’ll ensure that you start off on the right track in repaying your education loans and avoid the consequences of student loan default.

Step 1: Know what you owe. Students often underestimate their outstanding college debt. Some fail to maintain complete loan records. Others forget that interest accumulates on their unsubsidized loans while they attend school. Your lender or servicer and school financial aid office provided information to you about the amounts you borrowed. You should read this paperwork and calculate the total amount you will have to repay. If you have lost track of your paperwork, use the National Student Loan Data System Student Access website to find the name of your loan provider or servicer and contact information, as well as additional information about your loans.

Step 2: Determine how much you can afford to pay each month. If you’ve already been hired for your first job, you should know your starting pay. If you’re still looking for employment, consult the campus placement office about starting salaries for jobs in your field or consult the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

To determine an affordable monthly student loan payment, use our table. Education lenders and servicers generally recommend that student loan payments not exceed 8 to 10 percent of the borrower’s gross monthly income. For example, if your starting salary is $25,000, generally you can afford monthly student loan payments of no more than $167 to $208.

Step 3: Choose a repayment strategy. You have several repayment options from which to choose. Most borrowers use the standard repayment plan. Use a loan-repayment calculator to estimate your payments under various repayment options.

You also might consider loan consolidation, which bundles multiple federal education loans into a single monthly payment and, depending on your total education debt, extends the repayment period.

You should select the plan that provides a monthly payment that you can afford but also pays back the loan as quickly as possible. The longer you take to pay off your loan, the more interest you will pay. In fact, you may prepay your loan principal at any time, without penalty, to reduce your interest costs. If none of these options provides payments you can afford, you should ask your lender or loan servicer about deferment or forbearance provisions, which allow temporary suspension or reduction of monthly loan payments.

Step 4: Keep in touch. Students who move following graduation should notify their school and their lender or loan servicer of any change in their address and telephone number. Otherwise, you might not receive important information about your student loan account. Borrowers who fail to notify their school or lender or servicer of address changes may incur additional charges for missed or late payments and risk severe penalties for student loan default.

Now that you feel confident and prepared in repaying your student loans after your education, go ahead and get your loan quote!