First off, and possibly most important, is to remember to NEVER miss a payment! Student loans are one of the few types of debt that you can’t escape or get rid of through bankruptcy. Student loan debt is considered a good debt and can help your credit score when you make your payments on time and for the amount required. On the converse, your FICO score can really take a hit if you don’t make your payments. In fact, the IRS can garnish your wages and take your state/federal tax return money in trying to collect on your student loan balances. You can also be charged collection fees along with attorney and court fees should the government need to pursue you in court in trying to collect on what you owe them. The bottom line: make your payments. If you aren’t in the position to make the payment they are asking for or you are unable to make anything at all, don’t just sit there! Call your lender and let them know your situation so they can work with you. Federal loan holders are really good about understanding your situation and working with you accordingly. Private lenders will most often work with you as well. Chances are you may qualify for loan consolidation or restructuring which brings us to the issue of knowing your repayment options.
You may be one of the millions of people struggling to find gainful employment after college graduation. The government realizes that it’s tough out there right now and has created several programs to help ease the pain of paying off your student loans. Depending on your particular financial situation and your job status, you have options with Income Based Repayments plans, Income Contingent Repayments plans, Graduated Repayment plans, Extended Repayment plans, Forbearance, and Deferment. There are also Student Loan Forgiveness programs for those who qualify. You can go to the Federal Student Aid Loan Consolidation website to find out what programs will work for you as well as how to go about applying. It’s the best way to get a handle on your student loan debt and avoid missing any payments. Make a plan to get your college loans under control!