[Updated 2019]

Graduation around the corner? Have you started to repay your student loans yet? These tips and tricks below will give you more control over the student loan debt you’ve accumulated over the years.

These student loan tips can help you avoid dreadful fees and high interest charges, along with keeping an affordable monthly payment. In all efforts to keep your credit score protected because let’s face it, one mistake can hurt more than you can imagine.

1. Know your student loans

Your loan lender, your loan balance and the repayment status of each loan are the most important pieces of information to keep track of. The status of that information can determine your eligibility for loan repayment and loan forgiveness. It is essential to keep in contact with your lender to have a good relationship with one another.

2. What’s your grace period?

A grace period is the amount of time in between you leaving school (whether you graduated or you're taking a year off) before you have to make your first payment. Private student loans may have a different grace period than federal plus loans. This information is crucial as you start job hunting after graduation. Let's say you don't find a job for six months, but your grace period is a year, then you’re in the clear. But if employment is difficult to find, you may run into trouble when it comes time to start paying your student loan back.

3. Keep in contact with your lender

Whether it's an email change or an address change, your lender needs to know all your current information so there is never a missed piece of mail that could have significant information regarding your loan. Your lender helps solve any problems you may have with your monthly payments. Ignored emails, calls, or any form of contact from your lender can be a drawback. Missed bills can lead to default, which can turn into a long-term struggle.

4. Student loan repayment options are available

The standard repayment option is 10 years, but everyone’s situation varies. The longer it takes to repay your student loan, the more interest you’ll pay in the long run.

There are many different repayment options available, one being an Income-Driven Repayment Plan which is great because it can cap off your monthly payment to a certain percentage of your annual income. There may also be forgiveness plans that come available after 10 years of repaying your student loans.

Private loans work a bit different because they aren't eligible for deferments or forgiveness programs. But the lender may offer a deal that will require you to only make interest-only payments for a specific time frame.

Use a student loan calculator to estimate your monthly loan payment.

5.Refinance your student loan

Refinancing your student loans can give creditors an opportunity to lower your interest rate and repayment terms. Depending on the interest rate and the number of years it will take to pay off your new loan, refinancing can reduce your monthly payment, your total interest paid, or both.

6. Don’t ignore your student loans

Missing or neglecting your student loan can turn into a lifetime of consequences, it can lead to delinquency and default. For federal loans, default comes into play after nine months of not paying.

When you default:

  • Your credit score is ruined

  • Total loan amount is due

  • Total amount is increased dramatically

  • The government has the right to garnish your wages

  • The government has the right to seize your tax refunds

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7. Prepay as quick as possible

If you can afford to pay more than your monthly payment, then do it without thinking twice. This will lower the amount of interest that you have to pay over the entire life of the loan. One thing to remember: if you’re paying more monthly, make sure you specify that the extra amount is going toward the principle and not the interest amount.

8. Pay off the highest loan first

Interest rates hurt, especially when they are high! Pay off the loan that has the highest interest rate first because you will be paying more throughout the life of the loan. Private student loans are suggested to be paid off quicker than federal student loans because of the lack of flexibility and other benefits that they may not have compared to federal student loans.

9. Thinking about consolidating?

A consolidation loan combines all your loans into one debt that you will pay in one monthly payment with a fixed interest rate. There are many options to loan consolidation for federal student loans, for example, the Direct Loan program. One recommendation would be to never ever consolidate a federal student loan into a private student loan because all the unemployment deferments and loan forgiveness programs will be eliminated since it is not offered. SuperMoney offers loans to consolidate high interest debt into a manageable loan with lower rates which can save you money.

10. Look into student loan forgiveness

There are many programs offered to those who work in a certain field of work that will forgive all or some of your federal student loans.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a federal program that will forgive any student debt that is remaining after 10 years of repayment. This is offered for the ones that work in government, nonprofit organizations or other public service jobs.

Your lenders are humans too, so they understand that life happens. If you’re having trouble due to unemployed, maybe you ran into health issues or other financial bumps there are other options to handle your student loans instead of not paying. Some lenders can temporarily postpone your monthly payments but this doesn’t take away the interest that accumulates even though your payment is on hold.