Student Loan Debt Management Tips

Learn how to prioritize and make your student loan payments

If you're one of the many people juggling rent/mortgage, car payments, utilities and other bills along with your student loans, you're not alone. The best thing you can do is get a thorough understanding of your student loan debt load and your repayment options. That way, you can fit your student loan payments into your budget.

1. Start by documenting all your loans

Before you can start repaying your student loans, make sure you're aware of all the loans in your name. If your parents helped you with the loan process, there may be loans you didn't even know you had! It's also likely you have a combination of federal and private loans. Shortly before graduation, you should start receiving statements from all your lenders detailing your loans and predicted student loan payments. Keep an eye out for these and work with your parents and financial counselors at your school to be sure you account for all of your loans.

2. Assess your financial situation

Are you able to start paying your loans? If so, read on for tips on how to tackle your student loan debt. If you're not able to pay, there are options available. For example, if you're entering graduate school, participating in a residency or other training program, or currently unemployed, you can put off student loan payments until you have enough income to meet them. The preferred option is student loan deferment, in which your loan will sit without accruing interest until you can pay. Deferment is only available to people who meet specific qualifications. If you don't qualify for deferment, you can explore forbearance for student loans, which also delays payments but allows interest to continue to accrue.

3. Prioritize your student loan payments

If you're going to start paying your loans now, create a student loan payment plan to guide you. Start with small loans you can actually pay in full. There's no sense in accumulating interest on those. Next, figure out how to spend your remaining dollars. You probably have a finite amount of money to put toward all your loans, so make the minimum payment on the low-interest loans and put more toward the high-interest ones.

4. Look for discounts from your lender

While you can't count on your loans just disappearing, there may be ways to reduce the loan balances or interest rates. Ask if your lender will lower interest rates or the loan balance if you use automatic payments or certain credit cards. This varies widely by lender, but it's in your best interest to find out.

5. Put extra money toward your loans

If you get a tax refund, bonus, commission or raise, consider putting those funds to your student loans. After all, the faster you can pay down the balances, the less you'll accrue in interest. This can save you money in the long-run and lead to student loan debt relief.

6. Start paying interest while you're still in school

Your student loans will be in deferment while you're still attending school, but that doesn't mean you can't make progress on paying them. If you can afford it, get a head start on your student loan debt by paying interest or more each month. That will reduce the balance you owe upon graduation.

7. Explore all student loan repayment options from your lender

Another way to manage your debt load is to find a student loan payment plan that works for your budget. See if your lender offers long-term repayment plans, which will cost you more in interest but will lower your monthly payment. You can also look into graduated repayment plans, which are designed to grow with your income.

8. Deduct your student loan interest payments

The money that you do pay toward your student loan interest may be tax-deductible, saving you a little money that way. Consult with a tax advisor to find out more, but be sure you bring this up. Also, look for documentation in the mail from your lenders after the first of the year. They'll send you the appropriate forms and proof of insurance paid.

Find more help with your student loan debt from Citizens Bank

If you have more questions about student loan payments, you can always reach out to our helpful student loan specialists by calling 1-888-411-0266. Be sure to also take advantage of our student loan resources that can help you understand the process from beginning to end.

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