Did you graduate this spring? If so, chances are you're loaded with student loan debt. In fact, 2016 graduates average $37,172 in student loan debt. Yikes! So what can you do?
Stay in touch with your lender
This is especially important if you decide to move (which many grads do). Your lender needs to know how to reach you. It might be as simple as a website form or a phone call.
What if you have difficulty making payments? Whether because of unemployment, medical condition or injury, etc. By keeping in touch with your lender, you should be able to adjust your payments or schedule when needed.
Consolidation: pros and cons
How much goes here? When is this one due? Who does this check go to? Where's that address? Yeah. It's overwhelming sometimes. A consolidation loan combines several loans into one. Then, all you have is a single monthly payment and one fixed interest rate.
The downside is it will usually extend your repayment period. This means you will pay less each month, but you'll be paying longer to get it paid off. The pros? You may get a better interest rate and it is more convenient and easier to budget.
One important consolidation tip: Never consolidate federal loans into a private student loan. You'll lose all the repayment options and borrower benefits that come with federal loans (like unemployment deferments and loan forgiveness programs).
Take advantage of the tax breaks!
Just watch for your 1040 form(s) to arrive - each lender will send you one - and follow the instruction on them. Even if you use a product like Turbo Tax, you'll still need the information on the form.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. The financial aid counselor at your alma mater and/or your lender are great resources for advice. Another good resource is StudentAid.ed.gov. It has tools like repayment estimators and information on repayment plans for federal student loans.