– by Marcelle McIntosh –
After graduating, you’re dancing in the breeze of freedom from deadlines and college procedures. Long gone are the days of fighting to register for classes or trekking across campus to get to class on time in snowy mid-winter. After graduation you’re taking a deep breath on a warm summer day as you gaze from the mountain upon the inviting world before you. But then you hear the clink of a cash register come from the bushes nearby and your dream becomes a nightmare. You remember a student loan looms menacingly in the shadows.
As a standard, students are given time to transition into the real world and begin repaying their debts, also known as a “grace period,” usually lasting six months. Within this time, the clock is loudly ticking. You have to do adult things like make decisions, get a job and be productive, and of course also try to enjoy life a little. It may feel like it will take far longer than six months to get the hang of these adult behaviors. If this causes you stress, consider these steps to gracefully walk into life after college.
If you’re like me, your brain is probably still trying to get rejuvenated from coffee-filled study breaks and late-night socializing. The last things you want to see are word documents and spreadsheets. But to tame the monster that is student loans, you need to get organized. Enter all your loan information in a single document. Making a clear layout of lenders, balances due and interest rates will help to ensure clearer navigation of responsibilities.
Make a Living While Focusing on a Career Path
With a major in Communications I’d hoped that after graduation the proverbial doors would open before me and I would have the luxury of selecting from an array of jobs. But my dream job is far from becoming a reality and so I have to resort to more practical means of income.
If you want to start paying back your loans without further delay (and believe me, you do!) get a stable job and do supplementary work in your desired field—either part time or as an internship. You should be able to make enough to support yourself and also pay off your debts if you live frugally.
A payment plan that fits your income is an ideal way to manage your earnings. You can contact your loan provider and arrange a customized monthly setup. Pay your loans off as soon as possible. Interest accumulates, and the original pay-off date will drift farther and farther away the longer you drag it out. Not to mention you’ll end up giving more and more of your hard-earned money to banking conglomerates, who need it far less than you do. Prioritize your spending and make sure a sufficient amount is paid off to your loan regularly. That means you might have to tone down on the Friday night splurges.
Extend Time if Necessary
It is critical that you do not skip payments as this would add more charges and cause damage to your credit score. Contact your loan provider to see if you can be approved for forbearance or deferment of payment. You may be allowed additional time to gracefully emerge from the setback, without penalty.