Options For Handling Student Loan Debt - WSPA.com

Options For Handling Student Loan Debt

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For many students, it's the only way to get a higher education. Tip Nathan says it took him more than $10,000 in student loans to get his degree.

And two years ago, it got even harder when he lost his job and he stopped paying.

"Electric bill, trying to get a new place to live because you weren't able to pay that first, that whatever month's rent it was," said Tip. "Other things take precedence over student loans."

That changed in January when the loan company started garnishing his wages from his new job. Tip says now, getting back on track with his loan servicer seems impossible.

"They have not called back," said Tip.

USC Upstate Financial Aid Director Allison Sullivan says missed or late payments can put you in default, which can impact your credit, your loan's interest rate and even your ability to get a job.

Sullivan says the key is knowing who services your loan.

"They will get a lot of information in the mail from servicers that they may think is their servicer but it may not be. So it's really good to know," said Sullivan.

And notify that servicer about any financial changes immediately. You may qualify for loan consolidation, an income based repayment plan or forbearance.

"It's just delaying those payments," said Sullivan. "You can delay them for up to 36 months so it doesn't have to be all at the same time."

Otherwise once you're in default, Sullivan says it's much harder to get out.

Just ask Tip.

To help, we called his loan servicer. A few hours later, Tip finally got his call back and is now on a repayment plan he can afford.

"I was just really surprised," said Tip. "I was just really happy that somebody heard me."

Tip says the company set him up on a loan rehabilitation plan. And once he makes the first payment, the wage garnishment will stop.

If you have student loan debt, make sure you keep track of who's servicing your loan because it can change over time. The National Student Loan Data System can help you determine that.

If you fall into financial trouble, call the loan servicer immediately to check your options.

And keep track of payments you make for your records.

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