What to do if you have student loans.

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CONSIDER THIS:  The country’s combined student loan debt load is more than $1.35 trillion. A 2016 college graduate is projected to have $37,000 in student loan debt, according to the Huffington Post. Student loan debt is increasing because government grants and support for postsecondary education have failed to keep pace with increases in college costs. This has shifted much of the burden of paying for college from federal and state governments to families. 

Financial experts say students (and their parents) need to educate themselves on all the lending options available in order to avoid the type of debt that can hold them back financially after graduation. Find out what the interest rate is on various loans; know what the monthly payments will be ahead of time prior to applying.
Another important factor is to anticipate the job market when it comes to choosing a degree. Find out the average pay rate versus the cost of living and make sure to include the student loan payment cost.
If you do find yourself saddled with student loan debt, here are tips to help pay them down:
  • Refinance. Consolidating and refinancing your loans can help you pay off your loans faster. Credit unions typically offer lower interest rates on loans.
  • Use a cash windfall. If you suddenly come across extra money from an inheritance or settlement, use part — if not all – of it to pay down your student loan debt.
  • Student loan forgiveness. Investigate job opportunities with companies offering student loan forgiveness. Certain jobs, such as public service work or teaching, may offer forgiveness for part or all of your student loans.
  • Pay more. Any time you can do so consider making more than the minimum payment each month, even if it’s only $10 or $20. Anything extra will go directly towards the principal, which means less interest owed in the long run.
  • Financial institutions, such as credit unions, can be a good source of information. Many credit unions offer workshops or classes on the topic of college funding or lending. Some also offer lower-interest student loans.
To learn more about credit unions or to find a credit union to join—as well as for further tips and resources—go to www.weownourbank.com.