As there are several financial obstacles that you’ll face as you plan how you’ll pay for your health care education, it is never too soon to start working out the details! The sooner you start, the more likely you’ll be able to graduate without debt — wouldn’t that be amazing? Get started today so you can pay off consumer debt before getting student loans, have time to digest all of your private loans’ terms and set yourself up to keep track of how much debt you have.
Obstacle One: Consumer Debt
Monthly payments on consumer debts — credit cards, car loans, etc. — cannot be included in your student financial aid budget, so you can’t get financial aid to cover them. When adding student loans to consumer debt, there is a huge burden to pay off everything that is due, particularly in those first few years after graduation. Ideally, you would be able to begin paying off student loans immediately upon securing a job, if there is no consumer debt to pay off.
Obstacle Two: Not Understanding Private Student Loans
Student loans are confusing! Make sure to take the time to understand the basic terms and conditions so that the payment process does not become overwhelming. They are going to be wordy, but look for a few key pieces of information to help you break it down: interest rate, when the loan is due, repayment options and postponement options. Ask the lender to explain the terms and make sure that whomever is co-signing understands them as well.
Obstacle Three: Not Understanding How Much Debt You Have
It is crucial to have a realistic picture of just how much debt you have. Keep a simple list of the debt that includes information like how much it is, what kind of debt it is, who you owe the money to and when your loans or payments are due. Then, when you have extra money, you can prioritize payments. There’s even an app for tracking your student loans.
Remember, you have a much better chance of being successful in school if you can focus on your studies instead of worrying about your finances. Having a plan in place to overcome these obstacles will take a lot of pressure off of you.
Thank you to Paul Garrard, ADEA Senior Adviser for Student Financial Services, for this contributions to this piece.