by Kevin Ree
No monkeying around here—student loans are hardly fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still win at them (winning can be fun, right?). These are our top two tips for the graduates of 2019 with student loan debt.
#2: Know Your Loan. (Hello loans, you’re going down!)
Information is power. Find out if your loans are federal, private, or even a mix of both. Yep, it’s a thing. Find your federal loans and servicers through the National Student Loan Data System for Students (NSLDS) here: https://nslds.ed.gov As for private lender loans (banks, credit unions, etc.), these are held with your lender, and you’ll need to refer to the promissory notes (loan agreements) that you signed.
Now that you’ve met your loans find out the total balances, interest rates, and the minimum monthly payments. Knowing these numbers will help you in setting a payment/payoff goal, and map how to get there. Keep organized and carry on.
#1: Start making payments. (NOW!)
Many federal student loans have a six-month grace period, so if your graduating in May or June, payments will be due late fall—BUT you’re free to start making payments early (little-known loan fact). Payments made during the grace period save money on interest (both regular and compounded) and that savings benefits with a faster payoff.
On the other hand, if you can’t make payments early, or even be able to afford the regular payments after the grace period, use this time to figure out alternatives. For your federal loans, an income-driven repayment plan (IDR), deferment, or forbearance might be needed—and that’s OK. Ask your servicer what you’re eligible for. For private loans, talk to your lender early to see what options you have. Speaking up before there’s an issue can avoid issues altogether.