Congrats, new grads! You’ve put in the hard work, aced your exams, and tossed your cap. It’s time to put that degree to work . . . and to start paying back your student loan debt.
Student debt repayment is definitely one of the less enjoyable parts of post-grad life, but it doesn’t have to be stressful — as long as you keep these five tips in mind.
1. Learn the 101 of your student loans
Knowing the basics of your student debt situation — including the loan type, balance, and repayment status for each of your loans — is the first step to long-term success. If you’re not sure about any of these details, contact your student loan servicer (AKA the company assigned by your lender to manage loan disbursement and repayment).
2. Find out when you have to start repayment
It might feel like you have to start repaying your student debt as soon as you walk off the stage with your diploma — but depending on your loan type, you may have a grace period before your first bill is due. The grace period for private loans varies (if there is one at all), so contact your servicer to confirm ASAP. Most federal student loans have a grace period of at least six months, but you should still check with your servicer or studentaid.gov to be sure.
3. Understand what the federal student loan payment freeze means for you
If you have federal student loans and graduated in 2020 or 2021, you’re probably already aware that your student debt bills are on hold. But have you given much thought to what happens after the payment freeze ends on January 31?
The federal student loan payment suspension doesn’t change your grace period. In other words, you’re either currently in your grace period or it’s already ended — so you’ll need to be prepared to make your first payment in February.
4. Brush up on financial wellness basics
Making the right money moves now can set you up for a lifetime of financial wellness — but all too often, borrowers think they can’t invest in their futures until their student debt is paid off.
Allow us to bust that myth: everyone should start saving for retirement and building an emergency fund as soon as possible, regardless of student debt. After all, starting a 401(k) at 22 could mean retiring with more than double the savings than if you had started saving at 32, and you never know when you’ll need that rainy day fund.
If your budget is too tight to start saving, making changes to your student loan payoff strategy could help free up some wiggle room. Check to see if you’re eligible for a federal income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, which could lower your monthly payments (Pro tip: our Reassess tool makes comparing and enrolling in IDR plans a piece of cake).
You should also find out if your employer offers any student debt assistance resources (some workplaces offer up to $5,250 in annual student debt contributions as an employee benefit!). While you’re at it, encourage your HR department to learn about FutureFuel.io — we also partner with employers to offer our full suite of student debt management and payoff tools at no cost to employees.
5. Know that you don’t have to go it alone
Navigating student debt can be tough. But unlike that one group project from sophomore year (ugh), you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting on your own.
FutureFuel.io has the tools you need to tackle student debt. FutureFuel.io can help you build a personalized payoff plan, compare and enroll in money-saving alternative repayment programs, turn spare change and cash back rewards into student loan payments, and get ahead on your payoff with auto-recurring extra contributions. Ready to get started? Sign up for FutureFuel.io today.