Living ensnared in debt is hard, especially for recent graduates who realize that they can no longer afford to eat out or buy tickets to the apartment as often as they had before they moved into their rented apartments. The day-to-day expenses of life have a nerve wracking tendency to add up, and the considerable weight of student loan debts does nothing to decrease the financial stress. Moreover, the cost of college has increased considerably in recent years, leaving students in deeper debt than ever before. According to statistics provided by the New York Times, the price of a four-year college education, even when adjusted for inflation, is 250% higher than it was in the 1978-79 school year. There’s no getting around it – dealing with college debt after graduation has gotten considerably more difficult in the last decade.

 

Repayment is a long process. However, with dedicated effort and hard work, even students with high student debt burdens can repay their loans. Below, I’ve listed some common questions and answers affiliated with repaying student debt.

 

How do I find out how much I owe?

The most efficient way to assess your balance is to check in with your loan servicer. If you are unsure of who your loan servicer is, you can reach out to the National Student Loan Data System for Students and inquire about your federal loan balance. Those with private loans should check their credit reports for the lender’s name – or, if that fails, reach out to your school’s financial aid office and ask.  

 

How do federal and public loans differ?

Federal loans are typically less expensive than private and offer benefits that private loans don’t. These include but are not limited to fixed-interest rates and income-driven repayment plans. If you are shopping for college loans, you should only ever apply for private loans as a last resort.  


What are my repayment options?

Recent graduates have a number of options for loan repayment, but their choice of plan will ultimately depend on their individual goals and financial capabilities. That said, all borrowers should review their available income-based repayment plan and consider their options for consolidating or refinancing their loans.

 

What happens if I can’t afford to make payments?

If you can’t afford to pay back a federal loan, you should check your eligibility for forbearance and deferment. If you are eligible, you will need to file a request with your servicer in order to avoid default. Private loans are trickier; unfortunately, it may prove difficult to receive forbearance from a private servicer, given that their policies vary. If you find yourself in a situation where you need forbearance from a private servicer, you should reach out to the servicer directly to assess your options.