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Student loan debt is a tricky beast to reckon with—we want to obviously have the educations of our dreams, but it’s going to be difficult to pay back that student loan debt after the fact. It can easily be one of those things that cripple you for years to come, but obviously no one wants that to happen or wants to live that way.

So what is a recent grad to do? Here are some tips on how you can help reduce the stress that comes with student loan debt.

  1. Keep your numbers straight. You need to make sure you stay on top of how much money you owe back to the loaners every time. If you’ve taken out multiple loans with multiple lenders, then you’ll want to keep a running spreadsheet with how much you owe to each lender. And you’ll also need to keep your balances in check, which means minding the interest rates for each specific loan as well.
  2. Determine whether you’re able to pay your debt off early or not. Depending on your financial state, you’ll want to consider if it makes sense for you to pay off your loans in their entirety or not. It might make more sense for you to pay the minimum payments for a certain period of time rather than spending all your money upfront to get out of debt quickly.
  3. Look into debt consolidation or refinancing your loans. If you have a lot of loans out and many at a high rate, then you’ll want to consider consolidating or refinancing your loans. Private loans can’t be consolidated; only federal loans can be consolidated. Your interest rate will then be the equivalent of all the consolidated loans, which might not lower your actual payments but will open you up to different repayment options that are available for you. You can also refinance your loans with a private lender, which can cut down the time that you’ll end up spending paying them back because it’ll reduce your interest rates.
  4. Make loan payments automatic. By automating your loan payments, it ensures that you’ll be able to make payments by the due date each time, and you can set it to either be the minimum payment or as much as you would like. By ensuring that your payment is on time each month, you’ll be able to build up your credit over time.

Image via Flickr/Simon Cunningham

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