Your student loans will generally come due about six months after you graduate or leave college, though some loans will not have that grace period. You may discover at this point that you can’t quite afford the current repayment plan. Here’s how you can go about changing how much you pay.
Talk to the Lender
The first and best thing you should do when you have to change your student loan repayment plan is talk to the lender. There are quite a few options when it comes to federal loans, but you may find it more difficult to change payment plans for private loans. However, they can advise you on the best course of action for your debt.
Income-Driven Repayment Plans
If you’re just looking for lower monthly rates, an income driven repayment plan may be the best option for you. Your payments will coincide with your current income, so you can be sure it’s something you can afford every month. You will have to reapply for income driven repayment plans once a year.
Not all lenders offer these types of plans however, so it’s best to talk to your lender about what is available to you.
Your federal loans may also qualify for deferment. Deferment is a way to pause your loans without damaging your credit. With the ability to pause payments for up to three years, you can concentrate on re-budgeting. If you have subsidized student loans, you will also not have to pay interest during that time. However, if you have unsubsidized loans, you will be responsible for the interest that accrues.
To qualify for deferment, you have to complete a form stressing your need. You may only be granted deferment if you are enrolled in college, unemployed, experiencing economic hardship, or serving in the military or Peace Corps.
Similar to deferment, forbearance allows you to pause your federal student loan repayment, but for a shorter period of up to 12 months. This is a welcome choice for those who lose their job, but it’s important to note that interest will continue to accrue over this period, no matter the type of loan.
You may only qualify for forbearance if you are in a medical or dental program, serving in the AmeriCorps, having financial difficulties or medical expenses, or your monthly payment is 20% or more than your income. There may be other qualifying factors, but it’s best to talk to your lender to see if you can apply.
Consolidation is a great option if you have several loans with varied amounts and interest rates. It definitely simplifies your process and will lower your monthly rate by increasing the repayment period. You may also qualify for income-driven repayment plans after consolidation.
It’s important to note that increasing the repayment term will also increase the total amount you repay over time.
These are just a few options that are available to you when it comes to changing your student loan repayment plan. Federal loans generally have more routes for you to explore, so if you’re struggling with private loans, it’s absolutely essential that you talk to your lender about your available options. However, never simply stop repaying your student loans. It could have disastrous consequences for your financial future.
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