College is a major undertaking for high school graduates, not only because of the new responsibilities studying away from home can present, but the financial pressures that come with managing life on campus. Paying tuition fees is one thing, with a student loan simply handed over to the college administration office, but managing living expenses too.
In most cases, mistakes are made before the reality of managing finances finally sets in. But unless the trick is learned quickly, a student can simple set him or herself up for some serious financial pressure. Knowing how to manage college debts is hugely important, and the good news is that there are plenty of options available.
While student loan consolidation programs are hugely beneficial in avoiding defaulting on loan repayments, there are also other ways to ensure that the debt is repaid.
How Consolidation Works
The basic concept of loan consolidation is that different individual debts are bought out by one loan with one lower interest rate, thus lowering the size of the monthly repayments. Student loans can build up over the time a student spends in college, so pulling them together into one debt is a positive thing.
The biggest problem with having four or five individual debts is that each has an interest rate of their own. These can vary and so the repayments on the five loans can add up. Replacing these rates with one low rate lowers the interest paid dramatically. But managing college debt effectively also means extending the term of the loan, thus slashing the overall repayments.
However, it is important to note that by extending the term, the amount of interest paid over the lifetime of the loan increases. It is a small note, but the overriding fact is that student loan consolidation programs are designed to lower the monthly burden – and that is exactly what they do.
Consider Federal Employment Programs
Instead of seeking consolidation loans, it is possible to work back a portion of the debt from student loans. The Federal Employment Repayment Office of Personnel Management provides information on how to access this method or loan repayment, and what conditions exist.
Simply explained, the program sees federal departments hire recent graduates and, in return, pay a portion of their college debt each year. Currently, a limit of $10,000 can be repaid by the department in one year, and a maximum of $60,000 in total. That means that a graduate can be hired for a maximum of six years on this basis, though student must sign a three-year work agreement at least.
Managing college debt in this way has many benefits. Not only are repayments covered by the new employer, but the new graduate gets valuable work experience too. In this way, it holds an advantage over a student loan consolidation program.
Loan Forgiveness Programs
Another method of clearing the existing student loan debt through work is to sign up to the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. This is designed to benefit the education system, with trained teachers sent to low income schools, whether elementary or high schools. In return, the government will forgive a maximum of either $5,000 or $17,500 from the loan balance.
The lower sum is forgiven from the loan balance for teachers who taught for five consecutive full academic years in a qualifying school, while the larger sum is secured if the teacher specialized in teaching mathematics or science, or if they provided special education services for students with disabilities.
This is obviously a highly effective way of managing college debt, especially for long-standing graduates who are too long out of school to qualify to join a student loan consolidation program.