With summer wrapping up and the new school year starting soon, you might be thinking more about your new classes or decorating your dorm than the loans you took out to fund your education. You might have even graduated college recently (congrats!) and become laser-focused on your plan to move out of your parents’ house or get a full-time job. All power to planning for your #adulting life, but when that first student loan payment bill comes in the mail, there might be some stress, panic or even fear. *Take a deep breathe* and just remember, you’re not alone!
More than 1 in 4 Americans or 44.7 million people have active student loans in the U.S. Let’s face it: getting a higher education isn’t a cheap investment, especially with the rising cost of tuition. But successfully navigating the testy waters of student loans is possible and you don’t have to keep those financial fears to yourself! We rounded up some relatable student loan stories that will help you make a plan and get on track to pay off your student loan debt.
*Delete* Future Me Can Deal With That
“I supported myself through college since my parents didn’t help me. I had grants, loans and worked throughout school but I didn’t think about paying off my loans till later…it felt like a ‘future Katelyn’ problem. Then I got the notification to pay off my federal student loans after graduating and wasn’t sure if I could afford it. I heard from a friend about deferring your loan, essentially postponing it but still paying off some of the interest. Even though I didn’t qualify, I would still recommend people research their options like the forbearance option for financial hardship since it can make a big difference in how much you have to pay each month.” – Katelyn M.
Lost When It Came To Student Loans
“As a student, basic financial knowledge that I know now was never taught in schools. My parents understood it, but I didn’t take the time to ask them questions. I just saw student loans as a means to fund my education. So when it came time to pay my first bill, I was lost on how interest worked, how missing a payment affected your loan and credit score, etc.. I think student loans are also scary because how long it takes to actually pay back your loan. Understanding the relationship between your payment amount, monthly interest, and length of payment will help to ease personal fears.” – Niko F.
If Only I Started Yesterday
“For certain types of student loans, you accumulate interest throughout college and I largely ignored my student loans until after I graduated. So when I finally looked at my loans after I graduated, it was much more than I had expected. I wish I had paid more attention to my loans in school and tried to pay off at least the interest with money from work-study or summer internships.” – Christine Z.
“I deferred mine for a few years because I didn’t want to deal with it. I also made so little money in my first years out of college. Understanding how forbearance vs. deferral works as well as how interest works is so important when it comes to your student loans!” – Kristin S.
No One Told Me It Was Gonna Be This Way
“No one tells you about all the technical jargon involved when applying to loans. Was it scary when I first applied? No, because I wanted to do everything I could to go to my dream school. But it is scary now that I am about to graduate with thousands of dollars hanging above my head that I’ll have to pay off. To people who are thinking of applying for loans, make sure to ask many people about it like counselors, teachers and peers because it can be a tricky thing.” – Guzal Y.
Looking At My Options
“Being a bright-eyed college grad with admittedly minimal personal finance education, I had zero concept of interest. Now that I’m on my own and managing my own finances, it was tough to factor in ~$300-400/month on student loans. After doing more research, I realized forbearance was a concept I had never seen or been familiar with, and helps during times of financial hardship, though the interest still accrues. I am also now seriously looking into student loan refinancing since it seems super appealing.” – Jordan R.
Even if you’ve graduated college and have started that first job, you may still feel like that broke college kid when you see those student loan bills… and that’s okay! Sometimes, being a little scared or stressed is a good thing because it reminds you to pay attention and take things seriously. The key is to not let that fear paralyze you or stop you from talking about it with friends and family #RealMoneyTalk.
Student loans can be confusing and stressful and getting all the facts straight is an important first step in tackling your debt. After absorbing as much as you can about student loans including understanding terms like forbearance vs. deferment and all the different options out there, start looking at your own situation and get a plan into motion, starting with these six simple tips! Student loans don’t have to be scary if we share our experiences and resources and make sure to check in with each other.