In the midst of all the preparations for leaving school and starting a new job, it can be easy to forget all about those loans you took out to pay for your education. But, it is absolutely essential that you start working on them. In fact, the sooner you start dealing with them, the better your financial future will be.
Almost all college students have some student loan debt when they graduate. If you are one of those people, implement these three strategies to start getting them under control. This information has been taken in large part from the Dave Ramsey podcast and his book The Total Money Makeover. I highly recommend both of these resources if you want additional information and helpful advice.
Know Your Dates
Some repayment plans start later than you might expect. That means you could have a period of 1-6 months before you need to begin making the payments. Other repayment plans begin immediately after you graduate. You must carefully review all the terms and find out exactly when you need to start paying off the money you owe. You also need to figure out how much you should be paying per month.
Prioritize Your Loans
Arrange your debts smallest to largest in terms of how much money you owe. Make the minimum payments on all of your student loans except for the smallest one. On that particular debt, throw extra money at it until it is gone. Then do the same thing with your next smallest debt and so on.
Paying off what you owe smallest to largest gives you incremental goals to work toward, and you will feel like you’re making progress. Don’t focus on what the interest rates are. In the grand scheme of things, it won’t make much of a difference if you remain consistent on your monthly payments.
Avoid Debt Consolidation
Debt consolidation can often be a shady business, and it usually involves hefty fees and possibly some penalties, depending the type of debt you have. If you are already making consistent payments, consolidation won’t do you much good anyway. It is not a quick or easy fix. This process can also damage your credit score which could, in turn, affect your ability to make large purchases in the future, such as vehicles or a home.
It is essential that you tackle student loan debts quickly and thoroughly. Do your research, set repayment goals, and avoid so-called "quick and easy" options. Be diligent and consistent in repaying what you owe and you can achieve a large degree of financial success.
Please be aware that I am not a financial expert or consultant. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.