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Graduate Student

Posted by Credit.com on December 22, 2016 by Gerri Detweiler

About six months ago, graduation season began. College seniors and graduate students went through several rites of passage, like getting their caps and gowns, handing in their theses and going to the financial aid office to undergo student loan exit counseling. Students partaking in the latter activity were told that on graduation day, they would not only receive diplomas but also a ticking time bomb: Their student loan grace period would expire in several months, and they’d need to start repaying their debt.

Most people who finance their educations take out federal student loans, many of which don’t immediately need to be repaid after they’re disbursed: Subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans have a six-month grace period, and Perkins Loans have a nine-month grace period. (PLUS Loans do not have a grace period.)

If you’re coming up on repayment and think you might not be able to afford your loans, don’t wait to figure out a game plan.

“A lot of the young adults we deal with are often bitter about the situation that they’re in,” said Andrew Josuweit CEO and co-founder of Studentloanhero.com. “They may not have gotten the job they thought they’d be getting or the income. … A lot of them are having trouble making those payments.”

Federal student loan borrowers have a lot of options at their disposal, so you should be able to find a way to stay financially afloat while meeting your debt obligations.

Connect With Your Servicer

When your student loan was disbursed, you received a notification from your student loan servicer. Ideally, you’ve already set up an online account with your servicer (perhaps you’ve even started paying your loan interest), but if not, now is the time to do it. Your loan may have switched servicers between the time it was disbursed and now, so check the National Student Loan Data System for this information. You’ll need your financial aid PIN, and you can get a new one if you’ve lost track of yours.

Once you’ve logged into your accounts, take note of your monthly payments, and create a plan for making them (if you haven’t yet). Establishing an automatic payment may help you stay on schedule. Set reminders to make sure the payment came out of your account as planned, especially after the first one. Pay extra close attention when you start this process — you don’t want to pay late fees or become delinquent on the loan.

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