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Mar 25, 2017 02:50 AM EDT

How To Deal With Student Debt And Stay Sane

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Most success stories regarding student debt that have been circulating in the media lately, all suggest that the only way to pay down debt is to give up a lot of life comforts including a social life or even your apartment.

Mark Struthers, a Minnesota-based certified financial planner says borrowers are usually told they have to live on beans in a shantytown and pay off their debt as quickly as possible. However, he said this is not true and may even be counterproductive, USA Today reported.

Though it can take some borrower's decades to fully be free of their student debt, most borrowers should strike a balance, noted Struthers. Accordingly, it is better than tactics that can leave one scrounging for cash just to get by.

Borrowers who are struggling to keep up with their monthly federal loan payments should consider income-driven repayment plans. What it does is that it sets a cap on your monthly payments at 10-percent to 15-percent of your income. The beauty is that any balance left after the loan term ends is forgiven.

Accordingly, the standard 10 years can be extended to 20 to 25 years but you have to recertify every year to be able to stay on it; additionally, any forgiven amount would be considered income and is taxable.

Another avenue one might take is to consider options such as deferment or forbearance that provides a break from student loan payments while keeping it in good standing. Of the two, deferment is the better option; however, both have qualifiers that must be met.

Deferment would provide pause for an extended period. The interest that accrues during deferments may likewise be waived. Federal and private lenders may issue deferment if you are still active in school or is active in the military.

Forbearance is granted usually for a limited number of months if you are experiencing financial hardships due to a medical issue. Unlike deferments, accrued interest has to be paid during forbearance. More details can be had and clarified if you get in touch with your student loan servicer.

One could also opt for refinancing their student loans. It functions like refinancing a home or auto loan. Student loan refinancing is a relatively new process that many borrowers are not familiar with. However, it is worth looking into.

Biweekly repayment is also a feasible process to look into. As over a third of Americans are paid biweekly, you get to pay half of your minimum repayment every two weeks. With this process, you would end up making 13 full payments each year. With a 10-year loan, the process would render you debt-free at least nine months sooner if you stick with the plan.

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