Repaying Student Loans

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I graduated from law school in 2011 with $206k in student loan debt. Since then, I’ve paid down my debt to $131k. While it is still a work in progress, there is so much that I have learned over the last few years.

If you are like me and have student loans, then there will come a time when those loans will come due. Whether you are just graduating college or whether you are a few years out and you are just getting around to it, getting organized and planning for repayment are the first steps in actually repaying your student loan debt.

Repaying your student loans may seem overwhelming, complicated, or confusing initially – it definitely did for me – but with a little structure and planning, student loan repayment can be a smooth process.
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Note specific details about your loans

After you have the documents organized and your total debt added up, log into your online student loan account and look at the specific details related to each loan. Make note of anything that is important in terms of your loan terms. Important details include: a) the date the loan was dispersed, b) whether you have a cosigner on the loan, c) whether the loan is private or Federal, d) the interest rate on the loan, and e) whether the interest rate is fixed or variable.

These details are important for a number of reasons. You need to know when the loan was dispersed because some repayment options and other benefits will only apply to loans that were dispersed after a certain date. Whether you have a cosigner is important because you want to keep in mind who else you are affecting by your debt. Whether your loan is private or Federal is extremely important because this status will determine what student loan repayment options that are available to you (for example, income plans are only available for Federal loans). Finally, you need to know the interest rate and whether it is fixed or variable so you can prioritize which loan to repay first and so you are aware of what this debt is costing you over
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Finally, you may want to change your repayment plan from the Standard Repayment Plan to one of the alternative repayment plans offered for Federal loans (private loans are generally ineligible). For Federal loans, you will be able to choose from several income repayment plans that lower your payment based on your income, and extended repayment plans that extend repayment to 20-25 years.

With respect to consolidating, refinancing, and repayment options, the most important thing you need to keep in mind is that you need to determine what is best for you. Research these options carefully and make the best decision for you based on your circumstances (what is right for someone else might not be right for you).

6. Create a plan to pay off your loans

After you have organized your documents, considered the details of your loans and a budget, and decided on a repayment plan, then it is time to put on paper your specific plan to pay off your student loans. Writing down your plan will not only make your plan more concrete and fill in details, but it will also enable you to focus and stay on track in the future. You will have something to look back at to see if you are on

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