Sunday, February 7, 2010

More Tips on Student Loan Payments

Let’s talk about some more tips on repaying your student loans. All are designed to help you get to the Holy Grail of student loan debt—the day you make your last student loan payment. Put some of these ideas to work and see if that day doesn’t come sooner than you think.

Don’t wait for a bill to come from your lender every month. Go ahead and send a check regardless of whether you receive a bill or not. It’s habit forming and therapeutic, in the sense that you’re cutting your debt down to size. People who wait for the bill to come are taking, in my opinion, a passive approach to student loan debt. By taking charge and cutting a check no matter what, you’re taking command over your own fiscal situation. And that’s a habit that will pay off over the course of your ifetime.

Know all the repayment options available from your lender. Make sure that the repayment option fits your current financial situation. If you’re f lush with cash, go ahead and pay more than you owe. If not, work with your lender to accommodate a financial dry spell with a different loan repayment plan. Like anything else, when it comes to debt, knowledge is power.

Keep your lender in the loop. If you move, get married, or even change your phone number, let your lender know. Direct contact is the easiest and best way to solve any problems that arise. But you have to know who to reach. And the lender has to know how to reach you.

Take a break before starting graduate school. If you’re planning on going straight to graduate school but don’t have the money to pay the bills, try taking a year or two off and go into the corporate world to earn some money. After that, you’ll have earned enough to defray any further student loan costs. Bonus: By taking time off between schools and spending some time working for a living, you’ll gain a greater appreciation of what you want to do with your life—and what you might want to study when you return to grad school.

Request a deferment. If you do attend graduate school, request a deferment from your lender from any undergraduate student loans. As long as you are in grad school, you won’t be receiving any bills for your student loan from your undergraduate days. But work closely with your lender to make sure you filed all the proper paperwork to gain that deferment. Note that it’s much easier to defer government loans than it is private loans. Again, if you are in graduate school at least try to make interest payments on your undergraduate student loan. That will defray the total cost of the loan and help you develop good repayment habits.

Use gift money. Remember the scene in The Graduate when people came up to Dustin Hoffman and offered congratulations and encouragement for his graduating from college? If you looked closely, you’d have noticed them giving him an envelope or two in the process, containing hefty checks, no doubt. If you are similarly rewarded with a bonus from relatives and friends for graduation, or received a signing bonus to work for a firm right out college, use it to prepay your student loan.

1 comment:

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