You’ve heard it over and over again. The news won’t stop talking about it. It is the topic of many documentaries.
Everyone is talking about the severity of the student loan debt crisis.
In 2018, students graduated with an average of $29,900 in student loan debt for their undergraduate degrees. For those who choose to go on for a graduate degree, this amount will likely triple or quadruple by the time they’re done.
And considering it takes people years to pay off student loan debt, this can be a mighty scary thought.
So how do you overcome the fear of dealing with student loans? That’s the topic of today’s post.
How to Overcome the Fear of Dealing with Student Loans
Speak with a Counselor
The stress of student loans is real. Couple that with life’s other responsibilities and it can affect your mental health in a negative way.
Don’t ignore this. Speak to a mental health counselor where necessary.
There’s no need to “tough it out” or “try to get over it.”
Talk to a mental health counselor about your feelings and get the tools you need to keep moving in the right direction.
Take a Deep Breath
I know this is not exactly the answer you’d expect from a financial blog.
Perhaps, as you’re reading this, you just graduated college and in a few months or weeks, your grace period for paying off loans will be over. You’re desperate and scared and frantically looking for information that will assure you that everything will be okay.
I get it.
However, information overload will only discourage you. Instead of allowing this information to overwhelm you, take a step back and see this information as a way to start planning.
At the very least, see it as inspiration to tackle your own debt. And then take a deep breath and come up with your own plan.
Assess Your Situation
Are we calmer yet? A little? Okay, now it’s time to assess your situation and find out what’s available to you. If you haven’t yet, this will be a great time to assess your specific situation.
You will need to answer questions like:
- Who are my student loan servicers? (Because you’ll have to arrange payments with them.)
- How much will I have to pay each month?
- Do I have a grace period?
- How much do I owe exactly? (This can be an anxiety-inducing question but it’s crucial to find out so you can plan properly.)
- How much interest will I have to pay on my student loans?
You may have a spouse you have to take into account as you make all these plans.
So the first step is really to have a good look at all that paying back your student loans entails so you can pay them back.
Find Out What’s Available to You
What resources are available to you?
Does your state have a loan forgiveness program you qualify for? Do you qualify for student loan forgiveness (even if it’s just a percentage) based on your career? Will your job pay off some of your student loans if you work for them for a fixed number of years? Does your current income make you eligible to enroll in an income-based repayment program which will lower your payments in the interim?
You may find that researching these answers will uncover opportunities you didn’t even know existed which could make your payments or overall student loan amount lower.
We’ve discussed multiple ways to do this on the blog. Here are some of the top resources on this blog:
Avoid Student Loan Scams
Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who want to take advantage of the severity of the student loan debt crisis. And they play on your fears and emotions to get you to sign up with them.
If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is; so avoid them at all costs.
Get Inspired by Other People’s Journeys
Sometimes, it helps to know that other people are going through the same things you are.
There are people who were just like you a few years ago. Some of them may have even had much more debt than you currently have to face. But somehow they got through the challenge and have managed to pay off their student loan debt.
I’m not saying you need to copy their exact methods. Their life circumstance is likely different from yours. However, you can use their stories as inspiration to fuel your drive to get rid of your student loan debt.
Take It One Day at a Time
Rome was not built in a day. Yes, this sounds incredibly cliché, but it’s true.
And yes, the enormity of student loan debt in 2019 can be overwhelming. However, chipping at it one day (or one month) at a time, consistently, will help relieve the stress you’re feeling.
Paying back your student loans is scary. But it’s not an impossible feat.
Have you had to deal with fear or anxiety related to student loan debt? How did you handle it? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.