I sincerely hope anyone who reads this was more sensible than me when taking out their loans in college. I did not understand anything about them - I just knew I needed money to get me through the semester and the sight of the huge refund was a blessing I took advantage of in my early years. I remember thinking, "I'll pay these off easily when I'm a successful graduate out of college, so why not get a few more thousand for the year?"
WRONG! Game over. You lose. Do not collect 200 dollars when you pass 'Go'.
Now that I am dealing with several massive loans, I have received a lot of advice that I am happy to share. However, I wish I would have taken steps in college to decrease my loan amount, such as work study or paying off my interest with a part-time job IF you MUST take out loans. That is my advice to college students and now here is the advice I have been given on paying off these loans:
-Spend as much time as needed to understand your loan
Don't know what interest really entails? Or capitalization? Or Principal? Do WHATEVER it takes to understand each so you know the best approach for paying your loans. For me, it was HOURS on the phone with my provider's customer service... HOURS. But hey, that's what they're there for.
-Loan consolidators might be unnecessary
Depending on your loan provider, they offer ways to consolidate your loans for free. You just have to put in the time and effort to figure it out.
-Pay off more than your monthly payment, even if it is $10.00
Paying more than your minimum monthly payment, in most cases, will reduce the amount capitalized, especially in deferment.
-Spend time researching payment options
There are many loan forgiveness programs, but make sure you understand the pros and cons. For example, with the Nonprofit loan forgiveness plan, you must work in a nonprofit for 10 consecutive years within 1 month of unemployment. So if you get laid off for 5 weeks without finding a nonprofit job within a month, you must start all over.