How To Deal With The Student Loan Mess

I have been waiting for a very important piece of mail for the past two weeks, so I’ve have been diligently checking the mailbox every day, like a small child waiting for his box-top cereal send-away prize. It’s almost pathetic. So far I only received grocery store mailer coupons. So imagine my glee when I was handed a white envelope from this afternoon’s mail. I flipped it over with such gusto I should have been looking for a lottery prize. Here’s the best part…not only was it NOT the mail I needed; it was a bill! Unbelievable! Welcome to being an adult. It was a “friendly” reminder that my loan repayment begins next month.

Having been to three schools for college, I have accumulated several federal and personal loans. It’s almost a job in itself keeping track of the repayment plans since some companies prefer online payments, some prefer a mailed check, some only do phone calls, some have paper reminders while others are e-mailed and paperless. The web of loans – while they definitely made a fantastic education affordable – is proving a growing annoyance.

Without giving too much personal information, I’ll share some financial secrets and tips for loan repayment if you find yourself in a similar situation. There are a few tricks to managing several loans at once and the best place to start is with organization.

Dedicate a file to “LOANS” and put all pertinent information in one place for reference. This could include signed Master Promissory Notes, deferment copies, letters from any loan shifting or lender-crossovers, etc.

Look at your planner, print out a calendar, or use your phone, but find someplace where you can see the whole month, or several at a time. Go through and find your payment due date. Usually it’ll be at the first of the month, like rent and other bills. Occasionally, like one of mine, it will be the middle of the month, or even the month’s end. Plot these dates on your calendar, using the actual due date AS WELL AS the send-off date. This is the date to mail in your payment so it arrives ON the due date. Most agencies will give a 2-3 day leeway for mail travel, but best not to test generosity.

If you’re mailing, it can be helpful to have labels made up ahead of time for the address of your agency, if they are not included with a repayment booklet. Make your own at home with a printer and label paper.  Return address labels can also make the process quicker. If this option isn’t attractive, at least keep the agency address in your “LOAN” folder…it makes for a much easier lookup than going to the website each month. Plain white envelops can be found at the $1 store, and be sure to cover your check (fold it in a piece of computer paper) before you send it.
About a week or so after the payment, follow up with your bank account to make the sure the money was successfully withdrawn.

Budget wisely, pay on time, and you should have hassle-free loan repayments!