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How To Pay Back Student Loans

How To Pay Back Student Loans

Apr 2021

You just graduated college, so congratulations are in order and so is a big warm welcome to adult life.

First order of business? Pay your bills!

That diploma wasn’t free and if you’re like 73% of the other 2017 graduates, you have student loan debt and need to figure out how to pay it back.

The good news is that you have choices. There are several student loan repayment plans to choose from. Some are based on a percentage of discretionary income, run for 20-25 years and may include loan forgiveness if all payments are made on time. Other start with low payments that increase over time as your income increases.

Regardless of which plan you choose, make sure you know who your loan-holder is, where to send payments and how much to pay. You may also have questions about discharging your loans or the consequences of missed payments. Get answers to your concerns before you fall behind, and join the 4.2 million borrowers who were in default at the end of 2016.

When must I begin repaying my student loans? Do I have a grace period?

Most student loans have a six-month grace period, which means you won’t have to start making payments until six months after you graduate, drop out or drop below half-time status. The grace period is meant to give you a chance to find a job and begin earning an income before you’re swamped with bills.

Tips to prepare for student loan payments:

  • Use the grace period to research student loan repayment options,
  • Create a budget built around your student loans
  • Prioritize paying off student loans
  • Communicate with your loan servicer
  • Set up automatic payments to avoid late fees
  • Avoid student loan default at all cost
  • Know the exact date when you expect to pay off the loan and give yourself a target ahead of that to shoot for

The following types of loans have six-month grace periods:

  • Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans
  • Subsidized/Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • Some private student loans

PLUS loans have no grace period, and you must begin repaying them as soon as they are fully disbursed.

The grace period on Federal Perkins Loans depends on the school that gave you the loan. If you have this type of loan, check with your school to find out when you must begin repayment.

The grace period on a private student loan depends on the lender and your loan contract. Most private student loans have a short grace period, but you must check with your lender to make sure.

You may also choose to consolidate your student loans during the grace period. This will group your federal student loans into one payment and simplify matters considerably.

If you have federal student loans, you can choose to consolidate them with the department of education, through your loan servicer, or consolidate with a private lender. Private lenders offer lower interest rates, but only to those with high credit scores. If you have good credit and are looking to lower your interest rates on medical school loans, for example, working with a private lender may be the best option.

How much do I pay each month? Can I pay more?

Your minimum monthly payment is based on the type of loan, the amount you owe, the length of your repayment plan and your interest rate. You’ll typically have 10 to 25 years to repay federal loans entirely. Shorter lengths of repayment time or larger loans will result in higher monthly payments.

The Standard 10-year Repayment Plan is by far the most popular plan with 11.37 million borrowers enrolled in 2017, but that doesn’t mean it is the best plan for you. This is the default plan. Borrowers are automatically enrolled in the Standard Repayment Plan unless they choose a different one.

You’ll make fixed monthly payments for 10 years. It’s a great plan if you can afford the monthly payments and the cheapest option long term because you’ll pay a lot less interest. But, if you don’t have the income to support these payments, you should enroll in one of the income-driving repayment plans.

As for making additional payments, you can always pay any amount more than the minimum payment each month. There are no penalties for early repayment, and taking this approach can save you a significant amount of interest over time.

How do I make payments?

Once bills are due, you’ll be responsible for sending your monthly payments to the companies that hold your loans

If you don’t know where to send a payment, check with your school’s financial aid office. The financial aid office will be able to tell you who your loan servicers are. You can then contact your loan servicers directly with specific questions.

You can also retrieve loan information via the National Student Loan Data System.

Be aware that your payments are due even if you don’t receive the bills. If you move after graduation, tell your loan servicer your new address to ensure that you receive bills and can stay on top of your payments.

Consider changing your loan due date to make budgeting easier. The student loan payment might be due before you receive your paycheck each month. Contact your loan servicer to see if they can switch your payment date to directly after you get paid.

What are my options when I’m having trouble meeting minimum loan payments?

If your monthly required payment is more than your income allows you to pay, you may be eligible for income-driven repayment plans like the Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR); Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR); or Pay As You Earn (PAYE) or Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE).

The income-driven repayment plans are based on your income rather than the amount you owe, thereby lowering payment requirements for low-income borrowers. Generally speaking, these plans take into account your income, family size and state where you live. You pay between 10% and 20% of your discretionary income and plans run 20-25 years, depending on which program you choose

If you expect your financial difficulty to be short term, such as if you are in between jobs or are on medical leave, you can temporarily suspend payments on federal student loans. However, your loans will continue to accrue interest, meaning you will owe more when you resume payments.

You may also be able to extend the time you have to repay federal loans by using an extended repayment plan.

Or, if you expect your earning power to increase significantly over the years, you can opt for a graduated repayment plan. This allows you to pay less at first, with monthly payments increasing over time.

What are the consequences of missed payments? Defaulting?

Student loans never disappear. There’s no statute of limitations, and student loans are rarely discharged even in bankruptcy. With few exceptions, your student loans will follow you through life, until you pay them off

If you make a late payment on a federal student loan, you may be responsible for a late fee of 6% of the payment.

Defaulting on federal student loans will result in more severe penalties. You are considered delinquent when you haven’t made a payment in 90 days. When you haven’t made a payment in 270 days (nine months), you go into default and suffer a lot of consequences for it.

The government can garnish up to 15% of your wages and Social Security benefits, as well as offset income tax refunds. The government may also deduct 25% of each payment for collection fees, making the loan cost significantly more.

Late or missed payments will also show up on your credit report and can harm your score.

If you cannot afford your payments, it is much better to contact your loan servicer and review your repayment options rather than simply not paying.

Can I cancel my student loans?

Federal student loans may be canceled under the following circumstances:

  • Your college closed down while you were a student there or within 90 days after you withdrew.
  • Your school owed you or your lender a refund after you withdrew but never provided it.
  • The loan was a result of identity theft.
  • The student borrower dies.
  • You become totally and permanently disabled.

Can my loans be forgiven?

Federal student loans may be eligible for certain forgiveness programs depending on your profession.

If you have an IBR plan, any balance remaining after 10 years will be forgiven if you spend those years in a public service sector such as the military, public education or police work.

You can have up to $17,500 in loans forgiven if you teach in a low-income area for five years.

If you ever find yourself struggling with student loans, keep in mind that you always have options. Don’t wait until you’ve missed several payments or have already defaulted on your loans; get help as soon as possible to create a plan that works for you and your budget.

NFPR-2019-75 ACR#324822 08/19

Student Loan Defaults Can Wreak Havoc on Retirees

Student Loan Defaults Can Wreak Havoc on Retirees

Apr 2021

No one could have foreseen the convergence of two of the most consequential economic events in our history – the mass migration of the Baby Boom generation into their final life stage and the tectonic shift of a declining global economy. Unhinged stock market volatility, rising health care costs and historically low interest rates on savings have caused millions of preretirees to rethink their plans and their vision, especially as they consider the prospect of having to stretch their retirement income over 25 or 30 years. As if that weren’t enough, now tens of thousands of retirees are finding that their only real safety net is threatened as a result of their decision to default on their student loans.

That’s right; at least 700,000 student loan debtors are over the age of 65, double the number just five years ago. Nearly 10 percent of these debtors are at least 90 days past due on their student debt payments up from 6 percent in 2005.1Unlike most other forms of debt, the federal government will not rest until it receives all of its money. And, because the federal government issues Social Security checks, they can also withhold what they need, leaving many retirees unexpectedly short of cash.

The government can deduct as much as 15 percent from each check until the debt is repaid. With the average monthly benefit being $1,234, that would mean about $200 less in available to meet tight monthly budgets. Needless to say, it can make life much more difficult, especially for retirees living on a fixed income.

The sudden increase in senior student debtors can be attributed to two key factors: In the last couple of decades, parents who wanted to ensure their children had a college education became mid-life borrowers; and many older adults took out student loans to continue their higher education later in life. Student loan defaults among seniors are accelerating as more Baby Boomers are crossing the retirement threshold with very tight budgets. What many of them may not have realized is that student loan guaranteed by the federal government is not dischargeable through bankruptcy.

Retirees facing tough decisions about their finances need to consider the long-term consequences of defaulting on student debt. Not only will a default result in automatic deductions from your Social Security check, it will also make it difficult to find employment or obtain financing if either become necessary at some point. It would be better to look for an additional source of income, perhaps through part-time work or even refinancing a mortgage.

Additionally, retirees can also look into the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) program which can reduce your payment or cap it at 15 percent of their income. As long as payments are made on time, the loan balance is forgiven after 25 years.

If a retiree can find full-time employment (30 hours per week) in certain public services, such as a public library, military organization, emergency service, child or elderly daycare, etc., the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) will forgive the loan after 10 years of payments. The PSLF program can be combined with IBR to keep payment low.

Lessons Learned -The unfortunate position of these retirees should provide valuable lessons for mid-life adults considering taking on student debt, either for their children or for their own continuing education. Parents especially should consider the viability of financing their children’s college education. Early planning and savings are the obvious solution for parents who are intent on sending their children to college; however, for parents who aren’t financially prepared, other options, such as community colleges and less expensive, and local public colleges can provide a quality education without the added financial stress.

Tag: student loan, student debt, retirement

How to Make Your Retirement Savings Last

How to Make Your Retirement Savings Last

Apr 2021

At one time, employees worked until they reached their 60s and passed away not long after retirement. However, as life expectancies have reached the late 70s and early 80s, planning for a long retirement is an integral part of managing financial risk. Consumers must plan for longer golden years.

Set a Budget

When your income is reduced, the best way to combat the difference is to pull back on your spending. You already won’t have the expense of a daily work commute, so look for other ways to cut back as well. Set a monthly budget and stick to it, tracking expenses as you go and asking someone to hold you accountable. Over time, you’ll observe spending trends that will help you make reductions and save even more.

Continue Earning Income

One of the best ways to safeguard your retirement savings is to ease into retirement rather than quitting work cold turkey. This could mean going part time at your current workplace or retiring and starting a small job. Retirement is the perfect time to do what you’ve always wanted to do; if you love books, work in a bookstore; if you’ve always wanted to run your own business, consider becoming part of the sharing economy, driving for a ride-sharing service, or shopping for grocery delivery services.


Retirement is a great time to change your location. Since you no longer need to live within a reasonable commute to a business, the world is wide open. Consider moving to a more remote area or another state where the cost of living is much more affordable, and you’ll be surprised by how far your dollar stretches.

Managing your financial risk means making sure you have enough money in the bank to keep you comfortable during retirement. With a little planning and some cutbacks, you can confidently enjoy your senior years.

Tags: help with budget, retirement planning, retirement

Smart Things to do BEFORE You Retire

Smart Things to do BEFORE You Retire

Apr 2021

A lot of people focus on things to do after they retire, but there are a number of things you should take care of before you hit that milestone. Retirement planning specialists can explain the steps that will help you better prepare for retirement and help make this transition successful.

Establish a Plan:

You need to know how much money you’ll have coming in during your retirement, and then balance that against your expenses. Start by creating a budget, listing all your sources of income, and all your likely expenses. You’ll need to make sure your income covers or exceeds your essential expenses. As part of your plan, create a schedule. You need to know when you’ll apply for Social Security and Medicare and when you’ll receive any pension benefits or distributions from your retirement plans. These rules are complex, so you may want to consult with a retirement planning expert at least a year before you retire.

Consider Your Health:

As part of your plan, you need to factor in any health considerations. A medical emergency or major illness can completely disrupt your retirement. People often assume Medicare covers “everything,” but that’s not true. In addition to Medicare, you will probably want to obtain supplemental medical insurance to protect your family and future from unforeseen medical expenses or accidents. You should also review any wills, powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney, and other estate documents to make sure they still represent your wishes. Finally, start focusing on your personal health NOW. Exercise, eat right, and start doing the things that will support your health in retirement.

Set Goals for Your Future:

What do you want your life to be in retirement? Often, people focus on financial planning but don’t actually think about what they will do after they retire. Strong social networks, family and personal relationships, and new opportunities to learn and grow are important components of a happy and successful retirement. The things you want to do will influence many of your financial decisions, so it’s a good idea to figure out what those goals are before you retire.

Tags: help with budget, retirement, retirement planning

Habits of a Savvy Saving Family

Habits of a Savvy Saving Family

Apr 2021

When people warn you that having kids is expensive, it’s no joke. From diapers to food, braces to sports activities the costs add up quick. For a middle-income family in the U.S. raising a child up until age 18, costs an estimated average of $245,340 (or $304,480, adjusted for projected inflation), according to the 2013 “Cost of Raising a Child” report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Of course, this number fluctuates dependent on where you live and your living habits. Saving money as a family may be more complex than budgeting as a single adult, but it can be done successfully and save you loads for retirement, saving accounts, long vacations, and mean more readily available investment capital.

Yet, saving money doesn’t have to mean drastic reductions, rather small, targeted steps as an entire family can mean substantial savings. No matter the size of your family, use these tips to increase your family’s frugality and reduce the constant feeling of financial squeeze:

First and foremost, hold family budgeting meetings. Like any good business that needs a stable budget to be profitable, your family will thrive with a clearly defined and agreed upon budget.Include your spouse and older children (kids feel great about contributing to “adult” decisions), at a regular decided upon time—for example, the first Sunday of the month after dinner. (This helps to establish it as a habit.) Use an organizing tool like a spreadsheet, app, or budgeting binder that can be easily edited. And, you want to focus in on four main topics:

  1. Review past spending and compare this to the set budget. (There are some great budgeting apps like Wally, Mint, and GoodBudget that can help you easily visualize the breakdown of what categories you spend the most on.)
  2. Establish spending for the coming budget period and define in what categories.
  3. Identify any current problems and potential issues with the budget and brainstorm solutions
  4. Define any goals and track progress on current goals like paying off your eldest son’s braces or putting away a certain amount toward college.

Take a staycation

When every one of your kids’ friends are bragging about their upcoming spring break trips to Disneyland, the beach in Florida, or skiing in the Rocky Mountains, it’s hard to tell your kids that they’re staying home for their week off. But, that’s precisely what you should do. There is plenty to be explored in your own community and nearby metro areas. Take some days off of work and between free museum days, outdoor activities like hiking or bike riding, and movie theater matinees, a staycation will still be filled with memories and quality time together.

Embrace energy efficiency.

We all know turning off the lights after you leave the room, using energy-smart appliances, and taking shorter baths/showers is good for the environment. But, it’s also good for your monthly bills. Even if you don’t have the resources right now to install new, appliances that use less water and energy, the entire family can still conserve energy and thus, money. Make it a game to turn off the TV when done watching, unplug electronics, and turn the faucet off when brushing teeth. Start with a couple energy-saving techniques and then add a new one to focus on every couple of weeks.

Meal plan like a boss.

After a long day at work for you and school for the kids, the easiest diner option—a pizza, fast food, Chinese takeout—can feel like the perfect, simple solution. But it’s going to end up costing you more in the long run in both money and nutrition. Meal planning may feel time consuming at first, but after a few weeks you’ll have it down to a science. Over the weekend—Sunday perhaps—plan out what your family’s going to eat for the week. Make meals ahead and stick them in the freezer or do some shopping to get ingredients for the week, or at least the first few meals of the week in advance. Buy in bulk whenever possible. Luckily there are some apps to help with this process like Plan to Eat, Cook Smarts, and even Pinterest could be used to your advantage.

It’s okay to say ‘no.’

Anyone with children will tell you a trip to any store—grocery, drug store, mall—is incomplete without multiple asks of “Can I get this?” followed by a temper tantrum. Or, things like sugared cereal and toys are just placed in the cart when your back is turned. All of these little extra add-ons can add up over the course of the month with little to show except a kid sometimes amped up on candy with another stuffed animal in the toy box. Once your kids are old enough to understand, have them help you make a list of what you’re going to buy and then check it off while shopping. If they fuss about something explain it’s not on the list and so it’s not the time purchase it…unless they can and want to do so with their allowance.

Find the free.

Check your community’s calendars of free things to do. Often times you’ll find free story times, music, and outdoor activities—especially for the kids. Oh, and don’t forget the kids eat free or half priced nights at different restaurants. Throw one of these events together with some time at the park and you have yourself a fun-filled, free, child-friendly day!

Plan your purchases

It may seem like commonsense, but most things from winter coats and cable knit sweaters to outdoor grills and inflatable pools are sold seasonally. That means you can usually find the best discounted price on many items right after the season for the use has passed. Buy Halloween costumes for the next year right after Halloween this year. Same goes for holiday décor and swimsuits.

Do date night on the down low.

your partner. That doesn’t always have to mean dinner at a restaurant and a movie, concert or theater performance. While those things are fun, see if family or trusted friends will take the kids for a bit while you and your love have a cozy night in making a nice meal and watching a new movie on the Netflix queue.



tags: help with budget, retirement

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