Student Loan Payment Strategies

Student loan payments begin usually six months after you graduate, and can be the first real financial responsibility that a college graduate has. It is important to pay on time every month. Defaulting on a student loan can keep you from getting a government job, a mortgage like an FHA loan and will never be discharged in a bankruptcy. Student loans stay with you until they are paid off. By understanding a few simple ways to repay, you be sure you pay in time and pay those loans off with ease.

Deferment

A common problem with new grads is that they can not find a job immediately. If you are coming up on your six month grace period end, then call your lender and ask for a deferment which will allow you to go longer without a payment. It is better to negotiate with them then to be late or miss payments.

Lower Payments

If you have a job but your salary is low and you can't make your payments, then lower them instead of missing payments. You can call your lender and ask them to extend your loan term. By spreading the payments out over a longer period of time, then your payments will be lower. Also, some lenders will put your payments on a sliding scale that goes up and down with your salary changes. This can be good for someone with a fluctuating salary, like an independent contractor.

Consolidate

Consider consolidating your loans if you have multiple loans. You can roll them all into on loan which can save you money. Also, you will only have to remember one payment a month, instead of multiple payments, and this will help ensure you pay on time and don't forget to make payments. You can consolidate federal loans together, but if you have private loans, they will have to be consolidated separately. If you do have private loans, consider refinancing them to a fixed rate loan, since many are adjustable.

Find Someone Else to Pay

If you work in certain professions, you can have your employer pay back portions of your loans. The federal government, Teach America and AmeriCorps are all examples of employers that will help with your loans. These programs are generally for teachers, health care workers and childcare workers.

Automate Your Payments

Once you have your payments down to an affordable amount, then set up an automated payment system. You can do this through your bank or directly through the lender. Have the payment automatically taken out of your checking account before the due date. Some lenders will offer you a discount for signing up for their automated payment system.

Pay Extra

Once you are established in your new job and are making ends meet, try to add a little extra to the principle every month. Use tax refunds, annual bonuses and unexpected cash to make a dent in your loan balances.


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