Students look ahead to graduation, but many also dread to come to the end of their last semester knowing that a student loan is waiting to be repaid. Although a grace period of six to nine months will be granted before they have to start repaying student loans, it will still be a big burden to anyone’s post-grad budget.
More than half a year may sound like plenty of time. However, most graduates are unemployed until after one year. Searching for a new job, finding an apartment, and taking other adult responsibilities are hard to juggle with the task of paying loans. According to experts, more than a fifth of student loan borrowers miss their very first payment.
That it is not because they don’t want to pay the loan. It’s just that they were not able to track payment schedules that make them miss payments. Most of the times, the change of goals and future plans also cause graduates to leave their student loans behind and place them under their priority list.
If you are a recent grad with an existing student loan, take a glimpse at potential slip-ups to avoid when repaying your loans.
1. Unaware of how much you owe
The first step in loan repayments is to create an inventory of all your loan. This would be helpful especially if you have a mix of loans of private and federal loans. For an update of all your federal loans, check the U.S. Department of Education’s online database for student aid (National Student Loan Data System). Outstanding private loans should also appear on your credit report.
2. Not updating mailing address
Some newly grads move every year to another state to look for jobs, and a change in location every now and then may make it difficult for their lenders to keep in touch with them. It is a usual occurrence that borrowers do not update the lender on their change of address, causing delays to the receipt of the statement. Make sure you to keep lenders posted each time you move, so statements will not slip through the hole of forgetting.
3. Forgetting to pay debts
Make a note in your calendar months before the deadline of the first payment. If you haven’t yet received a coupon book or a statement, contact the lender and inquire about your repayment schedule. Not receiving anything does not exempt you from making the payment. Use automatic debits from your savings account so you never miss a payment. Also, many lenders provide a small rate discount to debtors who set up auto debits.
4. Missing the interest tax deduction
Although the IRS permits debtors to subtract student loan interest on their taxes, only about a quarter of borrowers actually take this deduction. You may skip and be exempted in the interest tax deductions if you are not eligible due to income phase-out limits.
5. Lengthening the repayment period
There are a lot of repayment options with federal student loans. Especially if you choose the right one, you can even experience reasonable monthly payments and not pay too much for your loan over time. On the contrary, not considering your options thoroughly may lead you to pay more than you need to. A good example of this is stretching out a 10-year loan to 20 years. You might be having small monthly payments, but you will still pay a significant amount of interest and you would probably be paying off debts even in your 40s.
6. Not knowing what consolidation may bring
Consolidating student loans brings benefits to some circumstances, but it also entails setbacks. If you are a borrower, think it through before consolidating. Consolidation means being stuck with one big loan and revoking some of your repayment options. It will also rob you of the benefits from your original loans, especially if you need additional assistance with forbearance or forgiveness provisions
7. Disregarding financial shortcomings instead of notifying your loan provider
Ignoring that you are under financial problems is a big mistake. One must not give up just because you have missed a lot of your payment dues. When you miss to repay a federal loan, inform your loan servicer and the government will immediately offer you almost unending ways to fix this problem. One is income-based default rehabilitation. This permits debtors to get their loan back on the game by making nine out of 10 monthly on-time payments based on what is affordable for their income. In many cases, you may be eligible for income-based repayment or forbearance when you lose your job or face other financial challenges.
Payment history makes up more than a third of the credit scoring model used by many lenders, and you do not want to taint your reputation by completely forgetting your loan. Always put in mind that missing student loan payments is not the way to build a solid credit history. If you’re one of the 40 million Americans are under the clause of student loans, according to the credit bureau Experian, make sure to pay on time.