The average college student in America graduates with around $30,000 in debt. If you factor in the cost of living and school expenses, the real cost of earning a four-year degree is much higher. Before and after graduating, many students experience financial anxiety over their ability to find a good paying job and getting out of debt in their lifetime. Some parents in their 30s are still expecting to pay loans by the time their small children enter college. While debt is almost inevitable for the modern college student, you can subdue some of your worries. Firstly, know that most students do have some type of loan to repay. You aren’t alone in the struggle, even if it feels overwhelming. Second, debt is inconvenient, but it isn’t insurmountable. In fact, it can even be beneficial if you learn to repay and build credit at the same time.
Focus on What You Can Control
Anxiety, at its core, stems from the fear that something bad will happen and we have no way to stop it. With student debt, this might be thinking it will prevent us from never buying a house, never moving out or being trapped financially forever. These are natural concerns, but they ultimately are just wild fears that leave you powerless. There’s no way to immediately resolve the fear, “I will never be able to live without debt,” but you can focus on actions you have full control over in the present. Make sure you always:
- Make your payments on time
- Stick to a budget so you can build savings
- Focus on earnings as much as your debt
- Fill your life with people and activities that fill you with meaning
Know Your Options
Refinancing can help lower the cost of student loans. When you are refinancing Parent PLUS loans, you pay them off by taking out a bigger loan. This new arrangement will have better terms than your old ones, which are chosen by you and negotiated with your new lender. You may want lower interest rates for a longer loan term, or you might decide to alter your monthly payments. When you explore ways to condense and reduce debt, loans can become just another tool that you use. They do not own you or define your success. Research consolidation, refinancing and debt management routinely. Seek answers to your questions, so you have definitive information rather than just anxious thoughts and worry. You’ll still have worries, but learning to shift your focus more to real information and facts can make it easier to cope with anxiety.
Explore Forgiveness Programs
There are many different types of repayment options for federal student loans that offer forgiveness after paying on time for 10 years. It can be a beacon of hope to know that, with consistency, your debt will one day be gone. A decade goes by faster than you think, and there’s plenty of time during that period to make adjustments to your plan. You may hit it big and decide to pay off everything you owe, or you could consolidate and move all your outstanding balances into one payment. Just know that as long as you pay on time, you’re on the right track. Rates can always be adjusted, but timing is everything.