Tips for Handling Student Loan Debt

understanding student loans

Student loans allow more people to go to school and seize the opportunities that will get them further in life. However, they are also just like any other kind of debt. They typically start as a very big debt and, when they go unpaid, can become even more monstrous. When people don’t pay back this debt, it can lead to lawsuits, wage garnishment, and more, also just like any other type of loan. The best defense, of course, is to keep the loan on track before you find yourself in hot water. Below are a few tips to help you do just that.

Understand Your Loans

Many students understand that they have massive loans hanging over their heads. They may even know the total amount of those loans. Too many though, don’t understand the nitty-gritty details. It’s important to not only understand how much the loans are but also when payments are due and how to make those payments.

It’s also a good idea to understand if the lender offers an automatic payment option so they can just take the money out of your bank account every month. If they do, it’s a good idea to sign up for it. These options will ensure you’re never late on payments and could even help you qualify for a lower interest rate.

If you don’t know the basic details of your loan, call your lender or your loan servicer and keep asking questions until you’re very clear about the terms and conditions.

Keep Them Organized

When people start to lose sight of the details of their loan, it’s often because they haven’t kept the loan and all its paperwork organized. Keep one hard copy file for all the paperwork you receive in the mail about your loan. Also keep a folder on your computer for any electronic files, such as receipts for the electronic payments you’ve made. Read everything you receive about your loan and make sure you understand what those documents say. Lastly, always make sure you make copies of any important documents pertaining to your loan, particularly if you’ve signed them.

Know When Your Grace Period Ends

Most student loans don’t come due the day you graduate. Instead, lenders often provide a grace period in which you’re not required to make any payments. The theory behind this grace period is that hopefully you will get a job and then have the ability to make those payments. Most grace periods last for six to nine months, while others may extend up to one year.

Too many borrowers miss their first payment because they aren’t aware of when their grace period ends. As soon as you learn of your payment due dates, mark them on your calendar. Even if you never receive a notice from your lender, you’re still required to make your payments on time. You certainly don’t want to start out repaying your loan by already being behind on the debt.

Choose the Best Repayment Plan

Many student loans have a variety of repayment options. Some will offer extended plans based on your income, along with a 10-year plan that is fairly standard. It’s important to research these plans and choose the one that is best for you. Ideally, you’ll choose the plan that will help you repay the loan and get out of debt as soon as possible. However, that’s not always possible.

Many experts agree that you shouldn’t spend more than eight to 10 percent of your income repaying student loans. That’s a good guide to go by at first, but if you can’t spend that much try to find a repayment plan that will allow you to make smaller payments over a longer period of time. Of course, if you can afford to spend 15 percent of your income on repaying student loans, this will certainly help you get out of debt even faster.

Determining how much to repay on your loan every month isn’t easy. The U.S. Department of Education’s website has a Repayment Calculator that can help make it easier to determine how much you can afford.

Repay Debts with High-Interest First

Just like with any other type of debt, when repaying student loans you should always start with the one that has the highest interest. Don’t put more towards your student loan than you have to every month if they are only collecting eight percent interest while you have a credit card that has a 20 percent interest rate. Pay only what you need to on the loans with the lower interest rate and focus on getting rid of any loans with a higher rate.

Know if You Qualify for Forgiveness or Cancellation

Sometimes, lenders are willing to forgive a certain amount of your student loan. Other times, such as if you’re experiencing extreme hardship, they may cancel the loan entirely. There are very strict conditions you’ll have to meet to qualify for either of these but, if you do, it can be well worth it.

Do Everything You Can to Avoid Default

If you default on your loans it could result in anything from ruined credit to wage garnishment. Federal loans usually slip into default after you’ve missed payments for nine months while private loans are often considered to be in default if you miss just one payment. There are many options to help ensure this doesn’t happen, such as forbearance, deferment, or repayment plans that are more flexible. Talk to your loan servicer or lender about these to ensure you don’t find yourself in more trouble.

Call a Florida Debt Defense Attorney

Sometimes, you work really hard to stay on top of your loan repayments, but it just doesn’t work. When that’s the case, your lender will probably take action, so you need the help of a Fort Lauderdale debt defense attorney. At Loan Lawyers, we know how to defend against lawsuits and wage garnishments and we’ll put our experience to work for you. If a lender has already started legal action, call us today at (954) 523-HELP (4357) for your free consultation to learn more about how we can help.

Loan Lawyers has helped over 5,000 South Florida homeowners and consumers with their debt problems, we have saved over 2,000 homes from foreclosure, eliminated more than $100,000,000 in mortgage principal and consumer debt, and have recovered over $10,000,000 on behalf of our clients due to bank, loan servicer, and debt collector violations. Contact us for a free consultation and find out more about our money-back guarantee on credit card debt buyer lawsuits, and how we may be able to help you.