Stuck. Overwhelmed. Buried in debt.
These feelings can easily wash over you when you are working hard to pay off student loans. Sometimes even with your hard work, it feels like it’s not enough and you are just treading water.
When you’re in a rut and your student loans are making you depressed, you may be looking for student loan relief to help ease the burden. While there are no magic solutions, there are ways to find some student loan relief to help you deal with the issue. Here are some steps to get started:
Talk to your lender
The first step in the process is to contact your lender. They are your starting point to find out what your options are when you are looking for student loan relief.
Each lender is different and has various repayment plans and terms and conditions, so you’ll want to go to the source to find out what they offer.
To help make the process easier, here are some helpful tips:
- Start by discerning whether you have federal or private student loans or both. This will make a huge difference in what options are available to you.
- Go to your lender’s website and find their contact information. Not sure where to start? Get information from the National Student Loan Data System.
- Call them immediately to ask about your situation and see what sort of relief options are available to you.
- Make sure to get your options in writing.
- If you choose a plan like deferment or forbearance, be clear on the details and timeline. Often this is only for a set amount of time, so it’s important to be clear on all of the details.
Like with any relationship, communication is key. Stay in touch with your lender if you are having trouble making payments, if you need to change your repayment plan, or if you have any questions or concerns.
Look into student loan forgiveness options
If you have federal loans and work at certain jobs, you may be in luck.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program offers qualified applicants the option to forgive their debt after 10 years of consistent repayment. This is a great option for those who are working for the greater good, but not bringing in the big bucks to pay back their loans.
To qualify, you need to:
- Make 120 on-time, full, scheduled monthly payments on your Federal Direct Loans.
- Make all of your payments under a qualifying repayment plan. Income-Based Repayment, Pay As You Earn, and Income-Contingent Plan all qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
- Work full-time at a qualifying public service organization. These include federal, state, and government organizations, as well as 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.
See our post on Public Service Loan Forgiveness for a more details on this program.
If you’re a teacher, there are also special programs that may help you with your loans. Check out student loan forgiveness for teachers options here.
Consider if Refinancing is Right For You
Are you struggling with high interest rates that prevent you from making progress? Do you feel like you are managing loans from various lenders and can’t keep them straight? Then student loan consolidation and refinancing might be a good option for you.
Through refinancing, you typically look for a better interest rate and can consolidate your loans into one monthly payment. Essentially, you are taking out one loan to pay off all your other loans, but in return you have one payment and a lower interest rate.
Refinancing is a great option if you have student loans with high interest rates. Consolidation and refinancing often work best with private student loans, but it’s also possible to refinance federal student loans too.
For those with only federal student loans, think carefully about whether refinancing is right for you as you will give up your federal loan repayment options, such as Income-Based Repayment and loan forgiveness programs.
If you decide that refinancing is right for you, check out various student loan refinancing lenders that can help you get the best rate and plan so that you can effectively manage your student loans.
Find a Like-Minded Community
This last step is such an important part of finding student loan relief, yet not talked about very often: find a community that’s also dealing with student loan debt.
You are not alone and there are others out there that are going through the same things. You can read personal finance blogs, find communities on Facebook or Twitter, or even talk to your friends about your student loan debt. Here are some resources to get started:
- Join the conversation on Twitter, using #debt or #StudentDebtStress
Student loans are an issue that need to be talked about and not just swept under the rug. For your sanity, it’s helpful to surround yourself with others who are also working to get out of student loan debt and that can provide support.
If your student loans are making you depressed — and affecting other areas of your life — consider seeking professional help.
In addition, you can check out various resources on our blog about how to get out of debt, and use online tools to help you pay off debt.
The key is to find support and resources and not let student loan debt consume you. Student loans suck, but there are ways you can find some relief — so you can manage your loans, pay them off, and move on with your life.
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