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Steps to take to deal with student loan debt

If you are a recent college grad and are stressed out over the amount of student loans you owe, you are not alone. Because student loan debt is such a hot topic right now, there are plenty of experts out there willing to offer up advice on how to deal with your debt.

Recently, Reuters highlighted several effective ways in which recent college grads can turn their anxiety over student loans into action. With the six-month grace period soon to expire for 2014 grads, now is the time to get a plan in place. 

Step 1: Figure out what you owe. Make a detailed list of each loan you have, whether it is federal or private, the servicer, the amount you owe and the date the first payment is due.

Step 2: Make sure your contact information is up to date. If your lender cannot get in touch with you because you have changed your phone number or email address, you could miss important alerts about your loans.

Sept 3: Figure out the best repayment option for you. There are several repayment plan options available, including income-based repayment plans, which can keep your loan payments manageable.

Step 4: Consider loan consolidation. Consolidating your loans into one loan can be an easy way to reduce interest rates and allow you to work with one loan servicer instead of several.

Step 5: Ask for help if needed. If you are overwhelmed with your student loan debt, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Loan servicers are often willing to assist, but if that doesn’t work, the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman can help with federal loans.

Remember that student loans are treated like other forms of debt and missing a payment -- even the first one -- can hurt your credit score. However, most loan servicers don’t report delinquencies until payments are more than 90 days overdue.

Source: Reuters, “6 Ways for New Grads to Tackle Their Student Loans,” Liz Weston, Oct. 27, 2014

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