Student loan debt is a reality for the majority of college graduates. Unfortunately, most students will enter their life after school with huge loan payments that they have to meet, on top of living expenses like rent and food, whether or not the are able to find a job after college.
The Danger of Student Loans
Having student loan debt shouldn’t just be accepted as the norm now, although almost every college student will experience the hardship of paying off loans to some degree. Students who work hard in school should be able to find scholarships and grants to help alleviate their need for loans, and students shouldn’t be afraid to ask their school’s financial office for help receiving that aid. In many cases, students can even receive more financial assistance by politely asking for more money on their financial aid award at the beginning of each school year– they just need to ask.
There are plenty of ways that students can get their education paid with scholarships, but even if you apply to a ton there is so much competition that you might not get the money you need. If you do come out of school with a degree in one hand and student loan payments to make in the other, there are plenty of resources that can help you. It’s easy to get buried under student loan debt once interest is added on, especially if you accidentally miss a few payments, so as soon as you feel overwhelmed don’t hesitate to ask for help and take advantage of the resources that are out there.
Dealing with Student Loan Debt
- The Cosign Debate: Anyone who takes out a loan will have to decide whether or not they should have someone cosign for them. On one hand, having someone with good credit and steady income cosign for a student loan helps you get approved. However, if a loan is cosigned and the person receiving the loan can’t make a payment, there’s little room for negotiation on the amount of payments because the company can just turn to the cosigner. If you’re able to get a good loan without a cosigner, you’ll have more power to negotiate your payments, but with a cosigner you’re likely to get better loans with better interest rates. Either way, know what you’re getting into and choose the best loan possible (one of the biggest mistakes someone can make is not shopping around for their student loans!).
- Ask for Help: There is a lot of assistance out there, but many people are afraid to ask for help. If you can’t make a loan payment, call the company and talk to a real person. Many times they can help you adjust the payment plan to better fit your situation. If that doesn’t work, get help from an organization like Student Loan Borrowers Assistance, which exists solely to help borrowers and their families.
- Knowledge is Power: Accepting student loans is an overwhelming experience, because you know that you’re going into a large amount of debt but you don’t always understand what that means, especially as a new college student. Before you even take out a loan, understand all of your options. Rather than just accept that you’ll have to live as cheaply as possible for years after school as you pay off your loans, knowing all of the options that are out there and knowing how much interest will be added on over what window of time will help you pay off loans as quickly or as cheaply as possible. Having more control over your debt will help ensure that you don’t get overwhelmed by payments and they you make payments on time.