Congrats, college grads! Earning a college degree is a big achievement, one that deserves to be celebrated. With your diploma finally in hand, you might be wondering, “What's next?"
There's a lot to think about in the weeks following graduation. Maybe you're looking for a job, or a new place to live. If you're like most graduates, you have student loan debt. Now is the time to make a plan for repayment so you can get your post-college finances off to a great start!
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for managing student loans after graduation:
Take advantage of the grace period
Most federal student loans offer borrowers a grace period of six months between graduation and their first payment. This time is meant to help new grads find a job and get their finances organized before payments are due.
For most student loans, interest accrues during the grace period. If you can afford to, consider making payments toward interest during this time. Making early payments will reduce the amount you pay in interest and could help you pay off your loans sooner.
Create a post-grad budget
Following a budget is one of the best things you can do to start your post-grad life on the right foot. A budget is simply a plan for your income and expenses, including your monthly student loan payments.
Building a budget is easy with a tool like
Money Management, a free service of Wright-Patt Credit Union (WPCU) Mobile and Online Banking. With this convenient tool, you can create a budget, track your spending and set money goals.
Once you know how much you can afford in monthly student payments, it's time to choose a repayment plan. Depending on your situation, you may choose to accelerate your student loan payments to pay them off sooner, or lengthen the term and focus on paying off higher interest debts first.
If you have federal student loans, use the Federal Student Aid's
simulator tool to visualize your payment options. If you don't choose a specific plan, your loans will automatically be put on the Standard Repayment Plan, which sets fixed monthly payments during a term of up to 10 years. You can change your repayment plan by contacting your lender or loan servicer.
With a repayment plan in place, you're ready to start making a dent in your debt! Making loan payments on time will help you build a good credit score and show lenders that you're a reliable borrower.
If you're having trouble making student loan payments, first consider switching to a different repayment plan so you can keep paying on time. Another option to consider is
refinancing your student loans. Refinancing allows you to combine multiple loans into one manageable loan with one convenient payment. Refinancing your student loans may help you secure a lower interest rate or even reduce your monthly payment, helping your stay on track to pay off your loans!
Paying back your student debt may seem overwhelming now, but with the right money plan, you can stick with it! At Wright-Patt Credit Union (WPCU), we're here to help new grads manage their money beyond college so they can achieve greater financial flexibility and freedom. If you need help building a post-grad budget, understanding your repayment options or managing your student loans, visit
WPCU.StudentChoice.org for tips, tools and resources.
Need a little more one-on-one help with your student loan questions? Schedule a phone consultation with our College Access and Repayment Counselor