Tips for Paying Off Student Loans Without a Hitch

If you’re frustrated and confused by your student loans, you’re not alone. We may not be able to help you pay back a mountain of loans, but we can help you make sure you stay on top of it.
VMD Staff
Published: January 25, 2017
According to the most recent data available, the average student loan debt for newly graduated veterinarians in 2014 was over $150,000, with close to 20% of loans exceeding $200,000. Ouch. And that’s on top of the debt that many veterinarians accrued while in undergraduate school. Talk about frustration!
 
Here’s how to be defensive when it comes to paying off your student loans. Although it may take a number of years to repay that mountain of debt, following these tips will help you do so with as few hiccups as possible.
 
Know Your Loans
How much do you owe? To whom do you owe it? If you can’t answer these two very important questions, you’re letting your lender take advantage of you. These questions may be confusing because the servicer of the loan is often not the original lender.
 
There are two types of student loans—federal and private—and each has its own quirks. For federal loans from the Department of Education, you need to set up an online account through the Student Loan Data System to figure out how much you owe in loans and to whom you owe it.
 
For private loans through a bank or other entity, you’ll need to figure out the institution’s system of reporting loans. If you can’t figure out where your loan information is, you can always check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com because lenders almost always report loans to the bureaus.
 
Income-Driven Payments
Payment plans are usually the way to go when paying off loans, but some grads don’t know these programs even exist. With federal loans, you may be eligible for a payment plan that allows you to submit your income and family size to reduce or even eliminate your monthly payments. The big lenders don’t want you to know this, so you need to educate yourself. Check to see if you’re eligible for the program with the repayment estimator tool.
 
It’s also important to stay enrolled in this program, which you need to do manually. You need to requalify each year if you’d like to continue paying off your loans at this discounted rate. Don’t count on your loan lender to remind you of the deadline—do it yourself.

 
Loan Forgiveness Options
 
The US Department of Agriculture offers a Veterinary Medical Loan Repayment Program that will pay up to $25,000 each year toward qualified student loans for eligible veterinarians who serve for 3 years in designated areas where veterinarians are in short supply. Click here for a link to other state-specific options.




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