Having student loan debt can be an emotional rollercoaster—and we’ve all been there. Right now, in the U.S., an estimated 45 million borrowers owe an estimated $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. This amount translates to an average of almost $33,000 per borrower. Let’s explore the kaleidoscope of emotions associated with student loan debt.
Fear, Anxiety, and Denial
As a student loan borrower, it is natural to have a little fear after realizing the financial responsibility you have taken on. When it comes to student loans, many possibilities may trigger this emotion. You may feel overwhelmed, as though you’re always worried about money. You may also wonder whether there’s ever an end in sight to your student loan payments.
Don’t let fear get you down, and know that it is possible to be financially successful with student loans. Search “Student Loan Success Stories,” and you will find many examples of individuals paying off their loans, many of whom are making an average salary.
Combating these negative emotions by learning more about your student loans is a great approach. You can ask yourself questions such as What types of loans do you have? Are they federal or private student loans or both? What is your balance and interest rate on each of the loans?
Once that information is obtained, the next step is to devise a plan to tackle them head-on!
Devise an Action Plan
· If you have federal student loans, there are many different repayment plans available to help you pay back your federal student loan. These can include Extended Repayment Plans, Revised Pay As You Earn, Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR), and more. In other cases, loan forgiveness may be available. There are multiple student loan forgiveness options, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF).
· Refinancing your student loans is also another option that you have for both federal and private student loans, especially if you have high-interest loans. Your interest rates may be lower and your monthly payment may reduce faster. If you choose to refinance your federal loans, you forfeit the ability to utilize certain benefits.
· While not ideal, forbearance is an option if you face a temporary set back to your financial situation. It allows you to skip making payments or make smaller payments temporarily. You wouldn’t make any progress in paying back your loan and interest may accrue. It does harm your credit!
· Decide which loan to pay off first. Consider all your debt, not just your student loans. The average credit card interest rate is 17.98%, while most student loans interest rates are less. Meaning it could cost more to have a balance on your credit card than student loans. The two popular methods of paying off your debt are the debt snowball and debt avalanche method.
· Find creative ways to increase your income or decrease your expenses! You could pick up a side job or altar your lifestyle to match your financial situation.
Instead of being fearful and anxious about your student loans, take a knowledgeable approach. This will allow you to set a goal and become debt-free with confidence.
Happiness and Accomplishment
Once you’ve just paid off your student loans in full or refinance, you’ll be experiencing one of the best emotions…happiness. The anticipation of this emotion is unlike any other. With a degree in one hand and financial freedom in the other, you’re free to forge ahead. You have finally won the battle against student loan debt.
While refinancing doesn’t get rid of your debt totally, it can lessen the stress.
You’ll feel a sudden wave of relief when your student loan balance finally hits 0, and the sense of accomplishment can be hard to match. The weight will be lifted off your shoulders, and you will be able to walk in confidence and pride.
Because the average student loan balance is close to the cost of a brand-new car, you should feel proud and accomplished once you’ve repaid your loans! The ability to put your mind toward figuring out a solution to stress-causing debt is a valuable skill that will pay dividends for decades to come.
If you’re struggling to pay your student loan debt, you’re not alone. Lenders have a vested interest in ensuring that borrowers can repay their loans, which means there are options available, including some you may not have considered. You can help moderate some of the negative emotions associated with student loan debt by educating yourself, making a student loan repayment plan, and sticking to it.