So NOW What?

You’ve done it.  You set a goal and, after years of work, have finally accomplished that goal.  That’s right, you finished your college degree.  With that accomplishment comes another question.  “So now what?”  That can be a pretty loaded question.  Does it include career?  Just finding a job?  Location?  Home purchase?  Relationship?  Family?  Vehicle?  More education?  Vacation?  There is a lot of think about when you ask “So now what?”.  While these all matter, I have one more question you need to ask your self –

“So now what about my student loans?”

Unfortunately, many people respond with, “What do you mean?  I just start paying them…. or something…. at some point in time….”  Well, yes, that’s true.  BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE!

graduate2Do you know what you have for loans and what interest rates they have?

Do you know what your payment options are?  Did you even know you have payment options?

What about all those places contacting you about loan consolidation?  Is that even legit?

Is there any way to get out of paying your student loans?

The first questions are all yours to answer, but the last two are a ‘maybe’ and ‘maybe’.

Let’s be honest, student loans can have a huge impact on our lives.  The National Association of Realtors found 70% of first-time home buyers reported that their student loans negatively impacted their purchase.  Those with student loan debt are less likely to start their own business, quieting a sense of entrepreneurship that has thrived in South Dakota.  And then there are the daily impacts on credit scores, budget, and other opportunities with a cost.

If you aren’t sure on some of the above answers, you are not alone.  A study done by Citizens Bank found that 1/3 of graduates do not know what their interest rate is, 45% do not know how much of their income goes to student loan payments, and 44% didn’t understand the difference between federal and private student loans.

If you aren’t comfortable with your level of knowledge about your own student loans, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  The good news is that there is help available.  The US Department of Education is good about providing information and resources through their websites at StudentAid.gov and StudentLoans.gov.  If all you need is a little direction, these can be a valuable tool.

Unfortunately, life can certainly be a tangled bowlman questioning1 of spaghetti.  Even choosing the right payment option for your student loans can be very dependent on your location, income, family status, employer, and other goals that you have for yourself.  It can also affect things like how you file your taxes.

The Center for Financial Resources offers specific Student Loan Counseling.  While taking a holistic approach, the counselor will work around the specific foundation of your student loans.  They will help you walk through your goals, current situation, and options for moving forward.  All of the CFR’s counselors are certified student loan counselors through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Whether it is a single visit or multiple, your counselor will help you identify your goals and guide you through the process to make those goals happen.  Not near our offices?  That’s ok.  Counseling can be provided over the phone or via internet if in-person doesn’t work for you.

If you are interested, you can call us at 605-330-2700 or schedule an appointment online.

 

written by Breck Miller
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.com

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