It’s the first day of your freshman year in college. You look out your dorm window onto the college campus. Life seems to be full of opportunities. I mean, the world is your canvas at this point. Fast forward four years and  $40,000 worth of debt later. Opportunities that can actually pay off your debt seems to be slim. The same college campus you once loved is now responsible for your debt. Your degree is just a piece of paper at this point. This is when you ask yourself, “Was all of your student loans really worth it?”.

Six months after graduation, student loans are knocking on your door asking you to pay up. You work at Starbucks making $10 an hour. It seems too easy to just ignore Uncle Sam and skip payments. How could they expect you to be making anywhere near what your degree is worth six months after graduation with dropping employment rates.Right or wrong, student loans are reality. Let’s get real.

People make the mistake of skipping out on their loan payment hoping that Uncle Sam just gets a bad case of amnesia. Sorry to break it to you, this isn’t happening. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a student loan sob story. You haven’t heard one? They usually start like ” I wish I would have paid my student loans”. Student loans don’t just disappear. It could either be a minor nuisance in your life or a major pain in your ass. It’s up to you to decide. Keep reading to find out my advice.

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After Graduation

I remember my first few months following graduation. Money surely wasn’t rolling in.  I wasn’t working in my field or even using my degree at all. At that time, I was working at a bank . Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t a horrible job. I just don’t believe that it lived up to the standard of being degree worthy. I surely wasn’t making the kind of money to pay back my student loans. Uncle Sam had begun to send the emails saying it was almost time to pay up. As a new graduate, that was the LAST thing on my mind.

Time’s Up

During my graduation year, I acted like Uncle Sam wasn’t even talking to me. Bills were piling up at this point. I had a brand new car payment. Those loan payments were just going to have to wait. Or so I thought! Early the next year, I started getting emails stating that I missed my payments and was behind. For the heck of it, I thought I’d check out the outstanding balance. Crazy Uncle Sam actually thought I was to pay $400 a month for these loans. Shoot, no one said I wanted to pay my full balance off right away. Clearly, there was a mistake.

Initially, I was like screw it. My loan payments could get in line with the other bill collectors. This state of mind didn’t last too long. I quickly worked everything out after speaking with others about their loan payments. Your loan payments aren’t your average outstanding bill. If it remains unpaid for a long period of time, your checks will begin to be garnished. No seriously! When you file your taxes, the outstanding balance due will be deducted from your refund. Nothing hurts more than expecting some money for it to all be taken away.

What’s Next?

Eventually, I had to suck it up and admit to myself that I would be paying these student loans. It was up to me if I wanted to have them deducted from my check or give a reasonable amount willingly. I knew off the back that $400 a month was just never happening. With a bit of research, I was able to see that I could apply to lower my payments. This process was super easy and saved my wallet and shopping problem.

On the student loan website, I was able to enter in my current income and provided payment options. This lowered my payment from $400 to about $15 a month. I’d strongly suggest having open communication with your student loan provider. It’s easy to admit you can’t afford those payments once you realize it will be taken otherwise.

The Reality of Student Loans

Let me just be honest with you. There is no escaping student loan debt! Unless you know of an actual forgiveness program or run into a fairy godmother, just accept this reality. Be smart about this debt to ease it’s impact as much as possible. Keep reading to learn a few of my tips to ease the pain of paying your student debt.

Preventive Tips

  1. Make sure you are being quoted the correct payment. Initially, your monthly payment is being quoted off the debt amount rather than your actual income. If it seems unreasonable, be honest and let your loan provider know.
  2. Try to make all your payments on time. I am still working on this myself. Doing anything on time is still a work in progress to me. If it helps, sign up for email notifications. This truly helps me as it notifies me when it’s due and/or late. That way I can get right on it.
  3. Set up an online account for your debt with your student loan provider. You will be able to keep tabs on your payments, your outstanding debt, and options at your own convenience. I’ve heard stories of people having to call in during business hours and stay on the phone for centuries just to make a payment. Make your life easy and set up an online account to take care of everything in one shot.
  4. Lastly, hope and pray you hit the lottery. LOL! In all seriousness, it’s your best bet to accept it’s going to be a long relationship until you can fully pay off your debt. If at any point, you forsee yourself being unable to make a payment, speak up! It works in your benefit in the long run to keep this relationship as hassle free as possible.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to pay our student loan debt until we land our dream job and salary. Sadly, this is just not the case. Get ahead of your student loan debt to ensure you don’t end up with your own personal sob story. This debt will be getting paid whether you like it or not. Don’t allow your own neglect of the debt cause you to be in a bind financially for years to come.

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