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As graduation day approaches, you can’t help feeling a sense of anticipation and excitement as you look forward to getting a job and being more independent. It’s an empowering feeling. But, paying those dreaded bills is just one of the many responsibilities that come with that independence. It’s also time to figure out how you are going to fit in your student loan payment along with everything else. As with any other bills, there are consequences if you don’t make a payment on time.

Here are 3 things you can do to keep you from defaulting on your student loans and get one step closer to being free of that overwhelming responsibility.

Put Your Payments on Auto-Debit

With job-hunting, apartment-hunting, and so many other things to deal with, it’s easy to forget that loan payment. Unfortunately, it’s no excuse. You will have to pay a fine and could also get a black mark on your credit if you forget. If you feel overwhelmed with juggling so many things, putting your payments on auto-debit may be the best solution. This takes the pressure off your memory and puts it in the hands of a pretty reliable computer.

Make Your Smartphone Work For You

Set a reminder on your smartphone for a few days before the due date and set an alert to remind you. Make sure to pick an alert time that will work for you. Plan for a time you are typically home and can make the payment.

If a smartphone alert isn’t something you would use, try an email reminder. Google Calendar works great and is free to use.  Even an old fashioned day planner will do the trick. Whatever you do, try not to simply rely on your memory.

Use Bill Pay if You are Not Comfortable with Auto-Debit

If you aren’t comfortable with the financial institution you borrowed from handling your automatic payments bill pay is another alternative. Most checking accounts have this free service. It works much like auto pay, but you set the payments to go through your bank rather than directly with the institution you are repaying. You pick the amount, the payment date, and how frequent.  You have the control, but again it is automatic.  Once it is all set up, you bank will “mail the check” for you.

No matter what you choose, make sure that it isn’t simply relying on your memory. Life gets busy and things get forgotten. Don’t let your student loan repayment be one of those forgotten things. Late payments or no payments result in fees and higher interest rates.  All of which just make it harder to pay off.

As an additional buffer against defaulting on your student loan, it is a good idea to pay extra when you can. If you have some extra money, pay more than the required minimum payment. It works in your favor to pay a little extra when you can. As time goes on, more and more bills will be added to your plate, so if you pay your loans down while you can, there will be less to pay in the future.

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