Find help for paying your student loans and debts.
There are a variety of government affiliated programs as well as non-profit organizations that can help you with repaying student loans. Below is a list of resources that are available to anyone that is currently in debt. Those seeking assistance can find answers to some common questions people have on student loans and they can also locate information on many of the options you have to get assistance.
New programs are always being created as well, some of which may be more effective than others. Learn about the latest federal government student loan assistance program, known as income-based repayment, which is a plan that limits the monthly payments a borrower needs to make. The government has put into place a regulation that limits the payment to a percentage of the borrower's total monthly income.
What are the consequences of defaulting on student loans?
- You will not be able to receive any additional financial aid.
- The creditor can demand that the entire student loan be paid in full, and be paid immediately. Even though a default has occurred, this is still the lender’s right to do this.
- Collection costs and fees of up to 19.5 % could be added to your monthly student loan bills and the total debt that is due.
- The student loan you defaulted on will appear on your credit report for a period of up to seven years (try to buy a house, leasing a car, or now, even getting a job with that!)
- Your employer could be served a legal garnishment notice that requires them to forward up to 15% of your take home pay towards repayment of your loan.
- Your income tax refunds could be withheld by the government and applied to your student loan repayment.
What are my student loan repayment options?
1. Eliminate the Student Loan by Providing a Service
The government has decided that it will allow you to eliminate your entire student loan and other related debts that you may have incurred while at college. This will be available if you will agree to put in some time into one or several of the following programs. It often involves working and/or volunteering at a non-profit organization or providing a service that the government deems is highly beneficial to the society at large, such as teaching in an urban school. Examples of what may qualify a borrower include the following.
- Volunteering loan forgiveness is for studenst that work at a certain type of charity.
- Law school students may have their debts forgiven if you work at a pro-bono firm.
- Medical school loan forgiveness for those that work at a clinic or certain hospitals.
- Occupational or education loan forgiveness is an option if you teach at an approved school. In these cases your entire loan balance may be eliminated.
- The government also offers additional opportunities around loan forgiveness. Continue reading about this option. Read on student loan forgiveness from volunteering.
In addition to the steps and programs listed above, many other studies have been created over the years that offer information on forgiveness. They discuss everything from volunteering to listing charities and agencies that often participate. Find the top ways how to repay your student loan from one of these non-profit organizations and the studies they have created.
2. You Need To Review Your Student Loan Repayment Options.
There are different methods to repay a loan. Each will come with a different type of repayment plan. The programs can benefit borrowers who used a private lender (such as Sallie Mae) or those that turned to the federal government (including Stafford) for the loan they needed. They include :
Level Repayment Schedule - The monthly installment you pay will remain the same throughout the term of the loan, with few exceptions. Note that some minor changes in the monthly installment you need to pay may occur for student loans that have a variable interest rate if the annual interest rate increases.
There is usually some flexibility with this product. If this installment amount does not fit into your personal budget due to a hardship, call your loan servicers to ask for help. Some lenders, including Sallie Mae, may be able to adjust the amount of the installment that is due.
Graduated Repayment Schedule - This student loan repayment schedule was created knowing that borrowers should have a higher salary and make more money as they progress in their careers. This was done to account for future income increases of the student once they have graduated from college. Student loan payments are initially lower and then they will increase later in the repayment schedule. So as your income increases over time you will need to pay more money towards your balance.
Income Sensitive/Based Repayment - This is the most flexible payment plan, but it can also be the most expensive in the long run, and you must reapply annually for this type of help from your lender. The monthly bills you receive, and the amount you are responsible for paying, will be established based upon your total student loan debt and gross monthly income. So it can vary greatly over time.
You provide your servicer/lender with needed information about your total gross monthly income that is received from all sources. This includes employment, benefits, consulting, and any source at all. Your income information cannot be more than 90 days old. If married, you do not need to include your spouse's income when asking for this form of help for paying your student loan. There are many other terms and conditions on this plan. More on income based repayment plans.
If the student loan repayment options above also do not fit into your budget, contact your servicer or lender to see if you qualify for what is known as the 25 Year Extended Repayment Plan. While this puts the student into debt for a longer period of time, it may provide them short term relief.
Once you have picked the right repayment plan for you, sign up for direct debit when you begin paying. Some lenders may reduce fees or provide other benefits to individual’s who use this payment method. This is the easiest way to make your student loan payments. You never need to worry about late fees or paying for postage stamps!
3. Apply For A Grant
Borrowers have several different options. In addition to free federal government grants (which do exist for certain careers and degrees) that are available from many government organizations, there are also several private non-profit agencies that offer numerous grants that can help with student loans. Find more information on grants helping with paying bills.
Also, many corporations, non-profit organizations, businesses, and government agencies offer education grants and scholarships. Almost all of them are free to apply to. Therefore there is no reason not to look into these various scholarship type programs. Details on college scholarships and grants.
Military spouses can also receive financial assistance and cash grants from a federal government program. In some cases, veterans can also get help in reducing any student loan debt they have incurred. This program was created to help spouses pay for education and other professional certifications. Read more on the MYCAA program.
College students can benefit from interest free loans from their University. The money can be used to pay for a number of living expenses that are incurred throughout the year. The funds can pay for various bills and financial obligations. Most colleges offer this type of assistance. While it will not directly pay down any student debt, it can help reduce the amount of other loans that the borrower needs to take on. More on college student emergency loans.
4. Change Your Due Date
If you fall behind because you are paying you student loan in the same week as the mortgage, utility bills, rent, car payment, and other bills, you need to contact your lender or servicer and ask them for help in changing the due date of your student loan payment. This will help the borrower better coordinate their monthly cash flow. They will usually adjust it by a matter of days or weeks. This can really help people budget their funds more appropriately.
5. Consider Loan Consolidation
There are advantages to do this. It can lower the interest rate and extend payment terms among other things. This can make it a little easier to pay off the student loan when just starting a new career. One risk though is to always be aware of the total principal that may now be due over the life of the loan. As consolidation can sometimes impact that amount.
- Lower your monthly payments
Consolidating your bills and loans can help lower interest rates as well extend how much time you have to pay off student debt to up to 30 years. This extension to your loan can really help reduce your monthly payments, even by as much as 50% or more. This approach can both help reduce your interest rate and maybe even extend the payment terms.
- Combine all your student loans
One company will take over all your student loans and debt so that you only get one monthly bill. You only have to deal with one company and not several lenders. This can help people get organized as one bill you need to pay, one monthly payment = easy! At the same time you do this, look into reducing the interest rate from consolidation.
- Do some homework
Once you have consolidated your student debts and loans, this is often the one time you can do this. In general, you are allowed to consolidate again only if you have an eligible student loan that was not included in your previous consolidation. So be sure you review all of your accounts, talk to your lenders, and take advantage of the process as you generally only have once chance to get it right.
- Use a debt elimination or a debt management plan (DMP)
There are other debt reduction as well as elimination plans offered by non-profit credit counseling agencies and other organizations. If you take this approach, be sure to read the fine print of any agreement. More on these debt reduction plans.
6. Speak To A Consumer Counselor
A consumer counselor can provide free advice on dealing with lenders such as Sallie Mae or Citizens Bank and many others. They will help save money on your bills and reduce your debts, including student loans. They will take a holistic approach to your financial situation. It is always recommended to use a non-profit agency.
There are also many ways for college students to save money. The money saved on textbooks, food, housing and more can be applied to paying off any outstanding student loans. This will allow the principal to paid off in less time.
7. You may qualify for a deferment or forbearance.
These programs can help you delay the repayment of your student loans to some later date. Borrowers may be provided several months, or maybe even years to pay of their debts. More on student loan deferment and forbearance.