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To navigate student loan repayment process, experts say you should start planning now

According to Lending Tree Americans owe $1.7 trillion in student loan debt and at the start of October many borrowers will pay for the first time in years
Posted at 5:00 AM, Sep 14, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — At the start of October many borrowers in our communities will have to make their first loan payments in years. If you’re one of the people who is preparing to see these bills once again, News5 has a look at steps you can take now that could help you save time and money in the long run.

Interest on those federal student loans is already accruing, so if you’re someone with these loans and you haven’t started developing a repayment strategy...

Here are some things you can do today to help you start that process:

  • Log back into your student loan accounts 
  • Figure out what you owe
  • That includes designated payments and the interest rate. 
  • With this information you can develop a repayment strategy

”We have a house that we have to budget for, and everything from new car seats to groceries to whatever it is that we are budgeting for, I would love to be spending that money on something that’s more pressing or an urgent need,” said Jessie Rizzo, who is working to manage her remaining student loan debt.
She understands the challenges of trying to budget for federal student loan repayment. So, she’s hoping to conquer those challenges faster. She’s already made arrangements to start paying down those loans.

”Throwing it further back is not going to make it any easier. So my husband and I have very much taken the stance of let’s get it done. If we can get it paid off, then eventually we are going to hit a point where we can use that money on other things,” said Rizzo.

I spoke with local credit experts working to help people navigate student loan bills and repayment options, they say the most important thing people can do is to contact their loan providers and to start planning now.

”Come October 1st there are going to be a ton of people overboarding the website, overloading the phone calls, so I’m telling my clients to take action now,” said Credit Yetti Credit Repair Specialist Faith Boone. “They are doing an income based payment plan and it’s so important to get that set up now and looking at your options.”

Allison Hill is also a credit repair expert at Turn The Page Financial.

”If you can’t afford that, tell them… hey, I still can’t afford this, I need it to be “x” amount of dollars. They are going to work with you,” she said. “They want their money. They don’t want you to go into collections, they don’t want to have to sue you. They don’t. They don’t. They don’t”.

You can also check to see if you are eligible for the “SAVE Plan”. It’s an income based repayment option put into place by the Biden administration. This can help to lower monthly payments and avoid additional interest. The program goes into effect next year, but you can enroll now.

Rizzo says she knows she’s not alone in trying to figure out where to come up with the money to start repaying these student loans.

”For most people it is not a small chunk of money. It’s not a small sum. So, I’m thinking about the things they are either going to have to forego in replacement of this payment, or things they’ll have to add to their lives. Another job, maybe it’s a side hustle, or more hours at work, whatever it is to make up that gap,” she said.

Consumer protection experts and the Colorado Attorney General are sending out alerts saying you should be on-guard for scammers looking to take advantage of people trying to navigate the student loan repayment process.

Here is a look at the alert from the Colorado Attorney General

Here are all the details released by the Colorado Attorney General's Office to help you navigate the student loan repayment process
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