Finally, you’re fresh out of college and excited to start a new chapter in your life. But before you completely immerse yourself into finding a job and making it big, there’s just one little thing that needs attention. Your student loan.

Ok, so maybe student loans aren’t a little thing at all. In fact, it has now only dawned upon you that you’ve reached the time where you won’t be getting any money out of the loan, but instead you will need to find money to pay it off! Before your grace period ends, here’s what you can do to get your student loan in order. Oh and by the way, playing it dumb just won’t get you off the hook.

1. Find out how much you owe – This is certainly the first step you can take to paying it off. You have to know just how much you owe after all these years. You can do this by digging through your old boxes and folders, or by asking your parents if they still have those papers you signed in the beginning. If you’re not a very organized person, log on to National Student Loan Data System where you can see your student loans. Also, you can contact your university’s financial aid office, they can help you sort things out.

2. Choose a Repayment Plan – There are several ways for you to repay your plan. One is standard repayment. With this plan you are expected to pay a set amount to your lender every month, with up to 10 years to pay off your loan. Standard repayments usually require you to pay more than other repayment options, but this will also get you out of the loan quickly. Extended repayment plans still demand a set amount every month, but the term can be extended for as long as 12 to 30 years. Then again, interest will also rise. For graduated repayments, your payment method will start small but then build up to larger monthly payments. Although it may seem like a good choice at first, you can end up paying 1.5 times more than the original amount.

3. Find Other Ways to Lower the Amount - As the saying goes, everything can be negotiated. Although your student loan amount may be hard to budge, original and administrative fees may be easier to waive. Negotiate with a customer service representative what you can do to help make the burden easier. Maybe something as simple as paying online can help reduce your costs.

The sooner you clear yourself off the student loan, the better for you. The thing is, loans don’t only stop with education. You can eventually find yourself applying for a car loan, or a home mortgage, getting you stuck in the rat race faster than you can say cheese. So start being financially responsible as soon as you graduate. Smart decisions early on can help you live a better life in the future.

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