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Student loans: understand your repayment options

For many recent college graduates, student loans await.  According to the New York Fed, student loan debt is now more than $1.34 trillion and continues to rise. For many younger Americans, it has become the largest household debt.

Here are a few things you need to know:

Forgiveness programs

The Department of Education offers forgiveness programs to help borrowers with student loan debt. These programs include the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) program. Both programs are designed to alleviate the student loan burden.  

Public Service Loan Forgiveness 

The PSLF program is available to borrowers who work full time in public service jobs. Federal, state and local government jobs qualify (including certain nonprofit employers), as do jobs with tax-exempt nonprofits.  Borrowers are required to make 120 qualified payments before they are eligible for forgiveness of the remaining loan balance.  

Teacher Loan Forgiveness 

The TLF program is available to teachers who teach full time for five complete and consecutive years at certain elementary and secondary schools, and other qualified educational institutions that serve low-income individuals.  To find out if the school at which you teach qualifies, visit the Teacher Cancellation Low-Income Directory.

Get an understanding of student loans

Get an understanding of your student loan providers. If you are uncertain, visit the US Department Education’s website.  This will guide you in determining the next steps to better manage your student loans.  In addition, also consider Sallie Mae’s Manage Your Loan portal.  This provides borrowers with various tools to manage payments.  Also, it helps you apply for deferments and additional tools to get a handle on your loans.

Payment options

Generally, borrowers are not responsible for payments until six months subsequent to graduation.  If at that time, you find that you are having difficulties making payments, contact your loan provider as soon as possible.  

Borrowers may be able to request a deferment or forbearance, which allows users to postpone payments until a later date.  Keep in mind that the main difference between a deferment and forbearance is that you may not be responsible for making interest payments with a deferment (there are some exceptions).  Either way, it is a good idea to keep your provider in the loop. Doing so can protect your credit and provide you payment options to tackle your student loan debt.

Final Tip – Free money 

If you are seeking ways to find funds to pay off your student loans, consider  This organization matches volunteers with nonprofits to provide skill work.  In return, volunteers are compensated by student loan payments funded by gifts made to the organization.  For more information, check out

Remember your choice, your future!

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