Below are some options that you can use to help get you debt relief and financial freedom if you are having difficulty dealing with your student loans.
1. Deferment and forbearance on your student loans
If you are having a hard time paying your student loans, but still want to make an effort to make payments, you could make use of deferment and forbearance.
Deferment is when you suspend your payments for a while and resume payments as soon as you are able to. When you request for deferment, the government may pay your interest on the student loan.
Forbearance is when you are allowed to reduce your monthly payments or allowed to stop making payments for a period of 12 months. With forbearance, however, your interest keeps rising. Forbearance is much easier to qualify for than deferment.
As soon as you can resume payments on the student loan, you should do so, otherwise the burden of the debt may become too heavy to bear in the future.
2. Income-based payment plan
If you can’t find a job at all, let alone a job that can pay you well enough, an income based repayment plan may be a good option for you. With this plan, your student loan repayment will vary according to your annual income level.
If you are married, the joint income between you and your spouse will be used to determine your monthly repayment amount. The monthly payments on your student loan should nevertheless not exceed 20% of your discretionary income.
You calculate your discretionary income by subtracting your gross annual income from a total expenses figure that is derived from the size of your household.
If your discretionary income is very low, your payments on your student loan may also be very low or you may not have to make any payments at all. You should, however, be aware that the loan amount will still accumulate and you will have to pay more than you normally would if you kept paying the loan.
However, if 25 years pass and you have not managed to pay off your student loan, the government may forgive you on the remaining loan amount. You will still need to pay taxes on the forgiven loan amount.
3. Student Loan Consolidation and Refinancing
Consolidation of your student loan may be a good idea if:
- You can find an interest rate on a loan that is lower than that of your student loan.
- You want to get on a government repayment plan and you have other student loans that are not government based.
- Your discretionary income is not low enough to qualify you for an income based repayment plan, but you have other loans that are weighing you down.
You should bear in mind that you may be limited in the number of times you will be able to consolidate your student loan. That said, you need to make a wise choice with ample information to back your decision.