There’s nothing worse than being burdened by student loan debts. If you’re a recent graduate, you’re probably making a meager salary to begin with, which makes the prospect of shelling out a couple hundred dollars per month pretty unappealing.
If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you’re sick and tired of making payments and just want to get rid of the debt where you pay it all off or refinance your student loans. Either way, it can feel like you’re drowning.
The Current State of Student Loan Debts
Student loan debts can make it feel like you’re all alone. The good news (depending on how you look at it) is that you aren’t. Student loan debt is a huge financial crisis in this country right now and you’re just one of millions of people burdened with those frustrating monthly payments. Want a better picture of what’s happening on the national landscape? Check out the following statistics as gathered by Student Loan Hero:
- Cumulative U.S. student loan debt amounts to more than $1.26 trillion.
- 2 million Americans have student loan debts, with the average payment being $351. The mean payment is $203.
- The average student loan delinquency rate is 11.1 percent.
Those are some striking statistics. And if nothing else, they should help you understand that this isn’t a “you” issue – it’s a “we” issue.
Three Practical Steps for Finding Relief
The word every person with student loan debt wants to talk about is “relief.” Thankfully, there are some practical action steps you can take to find relief.
1. Consolidate Debt
Do you have multiple student loan payments to your name? If so, then you probably feel pretty overwhelmed – financially and logistically. In this situation, debt consolidation may be a good option.
“The best reason to consolidate student loans is to stay organized,” personal finance expert Saundra Latham explains. “If making one payment on one big loan instead of five separate payments on five smaller loans will help you stay organized and prevent missed or late payments, consolidation is worth it.”
It’s also a good idea to consolidate if you can get a lower interest rate at the time of consolidation. This could save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
2. Explore Loan Forgiveness
Did you know that most states offer some sort of student loan forgiveness program? Take Florida, for example. Federal law allows for Florida student loan borrowers to “sometimes forgive or cancel their student loans even if the loan is not yet in default (in other words, even if you are current on your loan payments).”
Other states offer similar options. And while total cancellation of a loan is rare, you should at least see if this is an option.
3. Find a Job That Pays Off Loans
While not exactly common anymore, there are some employers that will actually pay off their employee’s student loan debts as part of the compensation and benefits package. This is especially common in highly competitive industries where students are saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans – such as healthcare or law. Keep an eye out for these job opportunities.
Be a Proactive Debtor
When saddled with student loan debt, the worst thing you can do is throw your hands up in apathy and give up. You’re the one who chose to go to college and take on student loans, so you have to own up to your investment in education.
However, there are options for finding a bit of relief. Proactively pursue some of these options to see what can be done in your situation.