It’s a tough time for recent college graduates. Many folks younger than age 25 with degrees are either unemployed or underemployed, with most working in fields that have nothing to do with their areas of study. To top it off, these same graduates tend to be neck-deep in student-loan debt.
In this turbulent time, how can you manage to stay on your feet? The simplest answer is to be careful, but here are some more in-depth tips for recent grads with loans:
Know your loans inside and out. Keep close tabs on your balance, repayment status, and more.
Know your grace period. You have a certain amount of time you can wait after you finish school before you have to start paying your loans off. This is called your grace period. Be sure that you know exactly when this period ends so that you can plan your finances accordingly.
Keep up-to-date with your lender. Be sure that you instantly inform your lender of any moves or changes to your phone number or email address. You want to make sure that your lender is able to contact you at all times so you don’t miss out on any important information about your loans.
Use deferments or forbearance if necessary. If you can’t make your payments because of sudden health problems, unemployment, or other unexpected financial challenges, these methods can help to put a hold on your loans. Note that postponements of payment may only be used in cases of legitimate unforeseen financial struggles.
Make your payments. This seems rather obvious, but you might be surprised at how many people simply blow off their loan payments. If you default, your credit score takes a dramatic hit and the total amount you owe will skyrocket. If anybody co-signed your loan, they will also be at risk.
Pay the most expensive loans first. The loans that have the highest interest rates will cost the most over time, so try to pay those off first if at all possible. Also, try to pay more than your required monthly payment if you can—it will wind up decreasing the amount of interest you’re paying in the long run.
These are just a few tips for recent grads with student loans. What experiences do you have to share about your post-college years, and how did you manage your student loan debt?