Editor’s Note: This article was originally published September 9, 2015. It has been modified to included updated links to the various resources listed.
Realizing that you are in over your head on your student loans is terrifying. Bill collectors may already be calling; or perhaps you got your first statement in the mail. You may be regretting even having gone to college.
Today we will focus on three quick steps to get your student loan debt with Navient (or Sallie Mae) under control. These steps are not meant to be a complete list, as there are a number of different approaches that can be used. Today is all about the simple things that can be done right away. It won’t fix all of your student debt problems, but it will immediately make them more manageable. Best yet, you don’t need a huge income, or to even have a job.
Figuring out what to do with your student loans and getting everything under control can seem like an impossible task, but it can be done. If Navient is asking for money that you just don’t have, try these three easy steps…
- Figure out if your loans are private student loans or federal student loans, because Navient handles both types of debt. This distinction makes a huge difference because your options for these two types of loans are very different. To find a list of all of your federal student loans, go to the National Student Loan Database.
- For your federal loans, change to a different repayment plan. If you are getting your first student loan bill, odds are the amount do is the payment under the 10-year repayment plan. There are a number of different repayment plans that can get your monthly payments lowered. Perhaps, the greatest part about federal student loans is the income based repayment options. Your monthly payment can be reduced to $0! The best part is that your loans will stay current and each month will get you closer to student loan forgiveness. These programs are designed so that nobody ever has to make the decision between putting food on the table or paying off their federal student loans.
- For your private loans, look into the rate reduction program. This program was created by Navient/Sallie Mae with the goal of assisting people who were in way over their heads on their student loans. While the program is far from perfect, it is better than nothing. Unlike the federal loans, your payment cannot be reduced to zero. However, if you are successful at getting signed up for the rate reduction program, your interest rates can get lowered below 3%. This huge drop in interest will make your payments much lower and can reduce your principal balance. If your income is too high to qualify for the rate reduction program, you may want to look into consolidation options. For full instructions on signing up for the rate reduction program, including the direct number to call, click here.
These steps do require a little paperwork, but you can quickly turn a huge student loan bill into a much smaller one. Once you have the bills down to a level that you can at least afford, the planning for getting rid of your debt as soon as possible can begin.