CPA Tom Walpole discussed methods for handling student loans Monday on News 8 at Sunrise.
Walpole said students loans are becoming a larger part of peoples financial lives. On average, American student graduates have nearly $30,000 in loans from undergraduate school. Depending on where they borrowed the money from, private lenders or the government, putting off paying those loans for a year could cause them to increase 8 percent to 10 percent.
Walpole said a plan should be made to pay them off as soon as possible. He said students should begin by finding out how much they owe and not leave the financial matter to their parents. To learn how much you owe students can visit the following sites:
For federal loans, the National Student Loan Data System at www.nslds.ed.gov
For private loans, www.annualcreditreport.com
Students should then prioritize their loans by making a spreadsheet with the terms of each. If unable to pay all the loan bills each month, students should play off the loans with the highest rates first. No matter what, student loan bills should not be ignored. Failure to pay each month will affect your credit score and make it more difficult to refinance the loans or borrow money for other purposes.
When it comes to refinancing, Walpole said students need to look around to see what options are available. Private loans may be able to be refinanced at better rates. He noted lender like credit scores of 660 or better. Government loans have many options, depending upon the type of loan and the situation of the borrower. Some may be consolidated for ease of payment and often a more favorable rate. Some may be able to be deferred if certain conditions are met such as unemployment, military service or serving in the Peace Corp. Some borrowers may be granted a forbearance of principal of up to 12 months for illness, or medical internships or if they are teaching in certain designated districts. There are government programs that tie payments into a borrowers income level and there are also federal loan forgiveness programs that forgive loans after 120 on-time qualifying payments.
Walpole also said students need to be wary of scams to reduce their debt, and remember that if they dont pay the IRS will target your tax refund.
For more information on handling student loans, Walpole said there is a good website for reviewing your options, click here.