Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Class of 2010

Congratulations December 2010 graduates! You finally joined the college graduate club. As you probably know, it's rough out here especially during Christmas time. It took a lot for me to get in the Christmas spirit because I was feeling depressed about my job situation. While things get hard, you have to keep going. So, here are my tips for surviving out here in the real world.

1)  Have an Open Mind. Because of this economy, it will be difficult to find something in your field. (Trust me, I know this.) Since they are so many  people out here like you competing for the same jobs, it may take a while to find your ideal job. Search for opportunities outside of your field along with jobs in your field. It's not where you start, it's where you end up. You also need to earn money to support yourself and pay bills. Don't be ashamed to take a job in food service or retail if you have to. It's only temporary and you will eventually find something in your field.

2) Work your plan. If there is a project or something you want to do, now is the best time to start it. Whether it's a website, business, charity, or volunteer work, do it now. It's a good way to keep you busy and develop your skills.You never know where  your work could lead you. It could lead you to opportunities that help you accomplish your goals and achieve your dreams.

3) Build and Utilize Your Network. The best way to find a job is through networking. Every good job I have had was because I knew someone. With so many people looking for work, applying for jobs online is not the most efficient way to look for work. (Not to say that applying for jobs online doesn't work. You just need to use multiple methods.)  Tell everyone you know that you are looking for work. Attend networking events in your area  and keep building relationships.

4) Keep Stress Down- Adjusting to being in the real world can be stressful especially if you are still looking for employment. Do activities that you enjoy to keep stress down. Exercising is a great way to relieve stress and stay healthy.

5) Manage student loans. While you may have a grace period, you need to mentally prepare yourself to pay back you student loans. Make sure you know all the terms of your student loans and all of your repayment options.This is also a good time to put yourself on a budget and learn how to manage your finances. Having a budget controls your spending, so you will have money to pay your bills.

6) Have Faith. No matter your religious persuasion, you have to have faith. You have to encourage yourself and believe that things will work out. Searching for a job in this economy is rough. Making ends meet is hard. Having faith motivates you to keep going. No matter how bad it gets, don't give up because life can be a lot worse!

The real world may seem scary, but you will make it. You already made it this far. Celebrate your success and Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Pay Me My Money Now"- Student Loan Rep

If you  graduated in May 2010, it's probably time  for  you to start making student loan payments. Unless you want your credit to be in the toilet, you MUST make your payments. I understand if you have high payments. Some of my friends have monthly payments as high as $500! That's a lot of money for someone with a lot of bills or who doesn't have a steady job yet. Fortunately, you have options if you can't afford  to pay your student loan payments. 

If just want to  reduce your payments, there are a few plans you can choose from

Under this plan, you have 25 years to pay off your loans. You will have a lower payment, but you will pay more in interest because you have a longer repayment period. There are some restrictions with this plan. If Direct Loan is your creditor, you must have more than $30,000 in Direct Loans. If FFEL (Federal Family Education Loan) is your creditor, you must have more than $30,000 in FFEL Program loans.

With this plan, your payments start out low and increase every two years. This plan also gives you 10 years pay off your loans. This plan is good if you expect your income to steadily increase over time.

Income Based Repayment Plan (IBR)
Under this plan, your payment is based on your income and family size. You are eligible for this plan if your monthly payment is lower under IBR than under the standard plan. This plan also comes with a few incentives. If you repay under IBR for 25 years and meet other requirements, your remaining debt can be cancelled.  If you work in public service and repay under IBR, your remaining debt can be cancelled after 10 years in public service. While this plan does have incentives, it also has disadvantages. Because you are making a lower payment, you may pay more in interest. You also have to send your lender documentation about your income and family size every year. You can get an estimate of your payment under this plan by using IBR caluclator.

If you absolutely cannot afford to make any payments at all, you can either apply for a deferment or forbearance.

 A deferment is a temporary suspension of repayment on your principal loan balance for specific period of time. You do not have to pay interest on subsidized loans during deferment, but you must pay it on unsubsidized loans. If you do not pay the interest on your unsubsidized loans, it will be added to your balance and you will pay more money. You qualify for a deferment under the following conditions:
  • Enrolled in school at least part time
  • Studying in an approved graduated fellowship program or in an approved rehabilitation training program for the disabled
  • Unemployed(Deferment up to three years)
  • Economic hardship{Deferment up to three years (including Peace Corps)}
  • A member of US Armed forces reserve or the National Guard.  You must be called or ordered to active duty while in school at least part time or within six months of having been enrolled at least half-time.
If you do not qualify for deferment, you can apply for a forbearance. A forbearance allows you to postpone or reduce your monthly payments for a specific time period due to financial hardship or illness. You are responsible for paying the interest on both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. If you do not pay the interest, it will be added to your principal balance and you will pay more money.

Paying off your student loans may seem overwhelming, but your education was an investment in yourself. People pay $50,000 for a luxury car that depreciates as soon as they drive it off the lot and pay it off within 5 to 10 years. Don't stress over your debt. Make your payments on time or take advantage of  your options if you cannot afford to make payments. Whatever you do,  DON'T DEFAULT ON YOUR STUDENT LOANS.

All information presented only relates to Federal student loans and is provided by the Department of Education. For more information, please visit  If you have private student loans, contact your lender(s) for repayment options.