Millions of college students are making decisions this summer about taking out student loans for the fall semester. As if there is not enough to think about in college, students have to try to keep up on all the changes with student loans. Now that Congress failed to reach an agreement on interest rates, one of the most popular type of loans – Federal Stafford – will have its interest rate doubled on new loans…from 3.4% to 6.8% effective July 1st.
And check out the staggering statistics: student loan debt has increased from $250 billion in 2003 to over 1 TRILLION dollars today. This is a 400% increase! It means that the average student graduating back in 2005 had $16,651 in student loan debt compared to $24,803 in 2012…and in Minnesota, $29,739.
Your future loan payments and interest rates might not make much of a difference to you right now. You have to pay for college and if you’re like many people and don’t have tens of thousands of dollars set aside, you have no choice but to take out loans – regardless of the interest rate. Plus, you’ll just deal with it later when you have your dream job, right? Well in theory that is true, but a lot of college students don’t think about repayment until it’s too late. Too many borrowers are either trying to keep up on payments and struggling or have already fallen behind and are in default or trying to get out of default. Not to mention, they’ve likely accrued other debts along the way – credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, furniture loans, etc.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
Here’s the good news: LSS Financial Counseling is in partnership with the Center for Excellence in Financial Counseling based at the University of Missouri to provide Student Loan Borrower Repayment Counseling. Our experience financial counselors have gotten training specifically to help borrowers in repayment. We can help borrowers:
- determine the best/most affordable repayment options
- consolidate their loans
- get out of default or avoid default
- get back on track financially
WHY GET HELP?
We’ve heard from too many people that just didn’t know about their options. For instance, did you know that there is an income based repayment plan? And did you know that if you’re behind on payments (not yet in default), you might be able to bring your loans current just by consolidating? Yep, many, many people are in the same boat. Check out LSS’s own Darryl Dahlheimer on KARE 11 News providing tips on paying off student loan debt. (Click link above or on actual video)
Want a Student Loan Appointment to determine your options? Call LSS today at 888.577.2227
WHAT DO I DO IF I’M STILL IN OR JUST STARTING COLLEGE?
Now we can’t help you predict the future or guarantee that you’re going to have a high-paying job right out of college. But here are some tips that will help you make the best of your student loan situation.
- If you still have time, apply as early as possible for as many grants and/or scholarships as you can.
- Visit FinAid.org for student loan calculators, financial aid applications, loan information, etc.
- Don’t borrow more than you actually need for tuition/books. Try to offset other costs with PT work, work study, etc. For more tips, check out 7 Ways for College Students to Save Money.
- Be realistic about your major and the earning potential for the type of job you can get. Do research on starting pay for your potential field of employment.
- Don’t keep enrolling in school just to avoid student loan repayment.
- Get knowledgeable. Visit the Student Loan Borrower Assistance and Department of Education websites for FAQs, repayment options, different types of loans, etc. to help you make informed decisions about your student loans.
As with other aspects of finances, it pays to be diligent with your student loans and ask for help if you need it. So don’t wait until you find yourself even more stressed out; take action now to improve your finances. For more information, read Barb Miller’s blog: Mastering Student Loan Debt.
If you think you would benefit from talking to one of our Student Loan Counselors, call us at 888.577.2227 to schedule an appointment. We can help you get back on track and conquer your debt!
Author Elaina Johannessen is a Financial Counseling Supervisor with LSS Financial Counseling.