As graduation nears, life can get really hectic. You spend time looking for a job and housing. You’re generally trying to fend for yourself. In all of this, it is easy to lose track of where you are at with your student loan repayment progress. Unfortunately, lenders are not very forgiving. One late payment and your spotless credit history will be blemished.
Before you find yourself at default, you should take steps to track the progress of your student loan repayments. This will help you stay on top of your loan payments and is well worth it.
How to Manage and Track Your Loan Repayments
Create a student loan spreadsheet. A spreadsheet is a great way to have all of the details in one place. That includes the total amount of your loans, interest rates, and your repayments. With one glance, you know exactly where you with your student loan finances. Your spreadsheet should contain details of:
- Name of the federal loan and whether it is subsidized or unsubsidized.
- The name of the private student loans if you have taken any
- The name and contact details of the lender or loan servicer
- Total amount of loan taken
- Terms of the loan
- Payment date
- Interest rate – this will help you decide which loans you should pay off first
- Details of the next payment – the amount to be paid and the date of payment
- Balance loan – as you pay off each month, that number should reduce every month
Why a Spreadsheet?
Creating this spreadsheet can be tedious but you have to do it only once and then spend a few minutes updating it every month. In return, you will have a handy document to refer to so at a glance you know exactly where you are at with paying back your student loans. A spreadsheet helps keep you organized, so you know exactly how much you’re paying per month and how your payments are going. The time spent making and updating your spreadsheet is definitely worth it if it means not defaulting.
Beyond keeping track of your student loan repayment progress using a spreadsheet, there are a few other things you can do to avoid default.
The most obvious is making your payments on time. If you can’t keep up with your monthly payments, consider a different repayment plan if you only have federal student loans. Federal loans are pretty forgiving and have multiple different repayment plans. You can pick a plan where you pay lower monthly payments over a longer period of time, or even pay more per month for a shorter repayment period.
Otherwise, you can consolidate or refinance your student loans for a lower monthly payment and interest rate, or because you want to combine all your loans into one. Just keep in mind that you could lose some of the benefits that come with federal student loans, since you’re going to a private lender to consolidate or refinance.
Use College Raptor’s free Student Loan Finder to compare lenders and interest rates side by side!