Congratulations on graduating—you did it! While this may not be an ordinary time to be starting your next chapter, making sure you stay on top of your student loans should remain a priority. Managing your student debt now can give you a strong foundation to achieve future financial goals, whether that’s saving up for a dream vacation, buying a car, or even purchasing a home. While the future might be unclear, these tips can help you make sure you’re on the right path to managing your student debt.
1. Check Your Loans
Not sure what type of loans you have or how much you borrowed? You can check your federal loans at the Federal Student Aid website. If you’ve synced your loans with Summer, this information can also be found in your loans dashboard. Your private loans information can be found by checking your credit report. We recommend this free site here.
Typically, both federal and private student loans have a “grace period” for new graduates. This means that for a set period of time you don’t need to make payments (but interest still accrues) on your loans. For most federal loans, the grace period is 6 months. For private loans there is no standard grace period, but most lenders offer between 6 and 9 months. It’s important to check with your lender for the exact details.
*Note: If you are or were a graduate student and have undergraduate loans, your undergraduate loans don’t have a grace period. You’ll have to start repayment as soon as you finish school.
2. Know Your Servicer
If you have federal student loans, it’s important to know who your servicer is—this is the company that will collect your loan payments. Your servicer information can also be found at the Federal Student Aid website or on your loan dashboard with Summer. Your servicer manages your loans so when you have any changes to your address, phone number, or email, be sure to let them know so they can contact you about any changes.
3. Enroll in the Right Repayment Plan
Federal student loans are automatically enrolled in a 10-year standard repayment plan. This means the government takes the total of your federal loans and splits it evenly across 10 years to determine your monthly payment amount.
But this isn’t your only option.
Upon graduating, you’ll be required to take mandatory exit counseling online, where you’ll be able to choose a different repayment plan.
If you have federal student loans and might have trouble making your monthly payments, you can enroll in an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. These repayment plans calculate your monthly payments based on your income. This means if you’re still looking for a job after your grace period is over, you could continue paying $0/month on your loans.
There are also forgiveness options for those looking to work in public service, also known as Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). PSLF forgives your remaining loan balance after 120 qualifying monthly payments (10 years).
4. Pay Your Loans
Yes, you will eventually have to pay these loans off. But there are ways to make it easier for you such as:
- Automatic Payments
- Setting up automatic monthly payments can help ensure that you don’t fall behind on a bill. Additionally, many servicers offer an interest rate deduction for automatic payments.
- Pay More (if you can)
- All loans collect interest so by paying a little extra now, the total cost of your student loan will be reduced over time. You should only consider overpaying if you’re not working towards Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Summer’s platform can help you determine if making overpayments is right for you.
- Pay Highest Interest loans First
- Loans with higher interest will cost you more in the long run, so it’s better to work towards paying these off first.
5. Keep Up with Changes
There have been a number of changes to student loans, most recently with the CARES Act, which offers temporary relief to federal student loan borrowers. A few of these CARES Act provisions include no payments due or interest accrued on federally held student loans from March 13th through September 30th, 2020. More information can be found here.
We know it can be challenging to keep up with these updates and changes on your own. Summer’s platform takes into account policy changes to make sure that our recommendations are up to date. You can also check out our blog for the latest student loan information.
Staying on top of your student loans can help set you up for financial success both now and down the road. Join Summer today to get started and see how we can help ensure you’re on the right path.