Home > 2015 > Students

How to Get Off on the Right Foot Repaying Your Student Loans

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

Repayment on the most common student loans (federal Stafford loans) starts six months after the borrower graduates. So, if like most new college grads, you donned a cap and gown in May of this year, it’s about time to pay up.

Paying off student loan debt can be intimidating, but there are many things you can do to reduce the stress of the situation.

1. Connect With Your Lender

The first thing you need to do is figure out how much you need to pay and when that first payment is due. Between now and then, get yourself organized, but make sure you don’t miss that first payment.

When you borrowed the money, your student loan servicer would have contacted you, and you’ve probably been receiving mail from them ever since. If you’re unsure who has your loan, you can look it up in the National Student Loan Data System.

Once you know who you’ll have to pay, set up your online account with the servicer. The student loan servicer’s website is where you’ll most likely manage everything having to do with your loan, including making payments, reviewing statements, communicating with servicer representatives and requesting any changes to your account.

Get familiar with your servicer and its website. You’ll be making payments on these loans for the next several years, and while it’s possible your student loan servicer will change, you need to know where to go if you ever have questions about your loans.

2. Make a Budget

Once you’ve looked up your loan information, you should know what your monthly payment will be. You need to make your student loan payments in order to keep the account and your credit in good standing, so it should be a top priority when determining your budget.

You can very rarely discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy, so if you fall behind, it takes a lot of work to catch up. If you default on your federal student loans, the government can garnish your wages and seize your tax refund, not to mention the debt collectors you’ll have to deal with. Get in the habit of making your loan payments on time every month from the very beginning, and regularly check your credit score to see how your loans affect your credit (you can get two credit scores for free every 30 days on Credit.com).

3. Research Repayment Options

If you’re crunching the numbers and you can’t figure out a way to afford the monthly payments, immediately reach out to your student loan servicer. With federal loans, most borrowers can set up a monthly payment based on their income with pay-as-you-earn or income-based repayment plans. Some private student lenders also have options for adjusting payments, so if you’re not sure about your options, ask.

Depending on your loans and your career path, you may also qualify for student loan forgiveness. You might even have a student loan repayment assistance program through your employer. Take advantage of whatever help might be available to you.

There are many resources available to borrowers to guide you through communicating with your loan servicer and understanding options available, like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau‘s loan repayment tip sheet.

4. Commit to a Plan

Put a reminders in your calendar so you know when a loan payment is coming up. Make sure you’ve budgeted for the loan payment, and send the money on time. To make matters easier, you can set up a recurring automatic payment so you don’t have to worry about getting checks in the mail on time or accidentally missing a due date. Your servicer might even lower your interest rate if you sign up for the automatic payment.

Take the time each month to make sure your payments go through (and that you have enough money in your bank account to cover them), and if your financial circumstances change, make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your loan accounts in good standing. Sometimes, figuring out that first payment is the hardest part, but once you get in the habit of it, paying off your student loan debt may not be so bad after all.

More on Student Loans:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team