The Arka Tech

battle is half the fight

The average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt according to usnews.

So before most students own their first home they are $40,000 in debt. Let’s not forget the interest. That means in the 10 years that a student has to pay off their loan their average monthly payment will be $420. This realization for many students after they graduate comes as a shock but here are some tips and resources to ease that pain.

Let’s start off with some tips. Before you graduate, leave school or enroll in less than half time (think twice about dropping that class) here are some things to know about loans.

First, complete the exit counseling because this allows a student to get information on how to manage their loan, options in paying back the loan and gives a student a chance to ask questions. Ask questions.

Next, taking a good look at a student’s loan borrowing history gives the student an idea of how much their interest rate is as this varies from loan to loan, semester to semester and shows the overall amount owed.

Third, a student should get familiar with their loan types. Depending on which loan type a student has will determine factors such as rate, payment plans and grace period for repayment.

Also knowing when to make the first payment is essential, starting out late causes problems from the start. Looking into the grace period for a loan let’s a person know if they have 30 days or 90 days to start paying on a loan. Knowing how and to whom to pay a loan too can help ease any issues.

Basically a student should know how much their loan is, what the rate of their loan is and ask questions. Go to StudentAid.gov/repayment-estimator to calculate how much and how long a loan will take to repay.

Before a student’s repayment begins they should also have selected a repayment plan.

There are three types: standard, graduated and extended.

The standard repayment plan gives a student 10 years to pay; minimum of $50 per month, but this is usually if a student owes very little because the interest rate would bury the student if they only paid $50; and this has the least amount of interest to be paid by the student.

The graduated repayment plan gives a student 10 years to pay; the payments start out low and every two years increase in price, lowest payment is based on monthly interest due; more interest is paid on this than the standard plan.

The extended repayment plan gives a student 25 years to pay (they could own a house by now), has a fixed payment amount or they can opt for the gradual increase every two years allowing lower payments; this plan has the most interest added to the total. Basically a student’s best bet is to plan ahead, go with the standard repayment plan and pay more than the minimum (even if it is a dollar because after 10 years it adds up).

The last tip to offer is to make the payments. Defaulting on a loan will cause trouble that could lead to a tax refund being held, more money coming out of a paycheck or other such forcible options.

If a student thinks they can’t repay or life happens there is student loan forgiveness; go to StudentAid.gov/forgiveness to find out more. Lastly, resolve any loan issues immediately, waiting does not help in this situation.

Basically, it’s time for students to put on their adult pants and face this head on because the consequences could alter their future.

There is hope; there are many resources such as scholarships and grants available to students if they look. There are scholarships to put tires on your car and food on your table all while lowering your student loan debt.

Business offer many scholarships to people going to school in their field, Arkansas Tech University offers scholarships (go online to https://www.atu.edu/scholarships/), and Tech student Amanda Condon offers many opportunities on her website, www.facebook.com/ groups/SMSHS/.