It used to be that a college education practically ensured your chances of obtaining a well-paying career in your field of choice, usually right after graduation graduation. However, times have changed. More and more people are pursuing college degrees and, therefore, the competition is high. To make matters worse, college graduates face the tough realization of searching for employment during an economic recession – a task that, for many, may be as challenging as earning a college degree. If you’re one of the many thousands of people who took out student loans to pay for your higher education, then the reality of the job market could be enough to put you in a panic over paying back your student loans. Relax. There are things you can do to better your situation. Here are my tips for how to handle student loans after graduation:
Use your time wisely. Federal student loan programs allot you six months of time with which to get your financial affairs in order before you have to actually start making payments. Six months is not a lot of time – it will fly by – but it is enough time to put some careful planning into place. In addition to job-searching and planning a budget, you should also research repayment plans, debt consolidation and loan forgiveness options.
Repayment plans. The federal student aid program offers what is called the Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR). If you qualify for the IBR, then your monthly payments will be calculated with your current income in mind, and they will be capped at an amount that is realistically within your budget. Visit the federal student aid website to see if you qualify.
Consolidation. If you have a number of loans, with varying interest rates, then it is probably a good idea to consolidate all of those loans into one lower interest rate loan. Just be sure to wait until your six month grace period is over before you consolidate, as consolidation automatically drops your grace period and instantly triggers your payment obligation.
Loan forgiveness. There are a number of ways you can get out of paying your student loans completely. This is called loan forgiveness. Volunteer organizations like Americorps and Peace Corps both offer loan forgiveness programs. As well, if you are entering into certain career fields, such as teaching, military, medical or legal, then you may also qualify for loan forgiveness.
As you can see, there is hope after college graduation. While it is true that you may not go straight from graduating to landing the career of your dreams, it is also true that there are ways to manage the task of paying back your student loan bill without crumbling under the pressure. Follow these tips to maintain your financial well-being once you step off the campus and into the job market.
About the Author: Patty Kleen is a full-time writer with a passion for personal finance and education. She writes about credit repair, obtaining secure bad credit loans, and money saving tips for professionals and students looking to build better financial futures.