Got Student Loans? You’re Not Alone

Got Student Loans? You’re Not Alone


“Back in my day”…is not something you want to hear when you need to talk about student loan debt. On a lot of other issues you can get great free advice from wise family members. Like, how to turn off that red light on your car’s dashboard, how to take care of a dripping faucet, or can you really wash darks and lights in the same load?

It’s not easy, though, to get up-to-date wisdom from people who attended college a generation ago. They had a different experience, especially when it comes to how they paid for it. Back in the day, public universities were significantly more affordable – and easier to get into. If your parents talk about how they covered their tuition with part-time work, you can probably believe them.

Year after year, college costs have risen faster than inflation. If you left college with outstanding student loans, you’re not the only one. You’re in the real world now, and part of that reality is making a plan to chip away at that debt. And it may be best not to look for advice from someone who’s going to start the conversation with, “Back in my day…”

Student loan debt today

Student loans can feel like a heavy burden or a necessary evil. Maybe you don’t want to think about them at all. By making a plan for how you’re going to repay them, you can regain a sense of control and make sure they’re not an impossible budget item. Here are some things to think about:

Really understand your loans. If you have multiple student loans, understand the details of each, including interest rates, repayment terms, and whether they are federal or private loans. This will help you prioritize which ones to pay off first.

Explore repayment options. See if your loan offers a repayment plan such as standard repayment, income-driven repayment, or graduated repayment. Whatever plan you choose, be sure to make payments on time to avoid late fees and dings on your credit report.

Look at loan forgiveness. Find out if you qualify for a loan forgiveness program like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

Research refinancing options. If you have high-rate private loans, refinancing could lower your monthly payments.

While you may want to just set up payments and forget them, it makes sense to evaluate your plan periodically to see if there are ways to decrease your loan balance faster. For example, when you get a work bonus or tax refund, you can put some of it toward an additional one-time payment. Do that in the short term to get rid of your student debt, and future bonuses can go into your pocket.

Student loans – like all debt – should be part of your personal financial plan. And they shouldn’t get in the way of achieving your long-term goals. Talk to your financial planner about where you hope to be in the next few years. They’ll help you make a plan to get there.

If you have student loans, here are some things to consider:

  • If you hit a bump in the road financially, the last thing to do is just stop making loan payments. Contact your loan servicer to find out about deferment, forbearance, or income-driven repayment plans so you can avoid default.
  • If you qualify for a loan forgiveness program, it can provide significant relief, but keep in mind that the amount forgiven may be considered taxable income by the IRS. Be sure to discuss this with your tax advisor.
  • Are you a recent graduate? Many student loans come with a grace period, during which you’re not required to make payments. Keep in mind, though, that interest may still accrue.

Please contact us at 206.217.2583 or if we can assist you or someone you know with financial planning.

The foregoing content reflects the opinions of Liz Behlke and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.