Whether you’re a recent graduate whose loans are just entering repayment or you have been making payments for several years, there is a very real chance that educational loan payments may be causing you a financial hardship. For recent graduates, there is a lot of info covered in federal exit counseling and it would be easy to have missed some of it.
Loan Servicer Navient has put together a list of their Top 10 Things to do Before You Make Your 1st Loan Payment. The key to successfully repaying your loans with any Loan Servicer is understanding your responsibilities as a borrower and the wide range of tools available to help you throughout repayment. Your Loan Servicer doesn’t want you to default and you definitely don’t want to default on your loans either!
While there isn’t much that can be done about the amount you owe since you’ve already borrowed it, you can still choose from several different options for repayment. The Institute for College Access and Success created a Top 10 Tips for recent graduates, a handy reference for borrowers.
Unless you chose otherwise, you’re probably enrolled in the Standard Repayment Plan which spreads your payments evenly over 10 years. This is both the default plan as well as the most aggressive repayment option available. However, there are several other options a borrower can choose which can limit the repayment per month to 10% of discretionary income and reduce payments to as little as zero dollars per month (depending on income). For more information, check out Acacia Squire’s piece in NPR about her experiences and what options may be available to you.