A naked lightbulb sparks to life. Your laptop flickers on. The air around you sits eerily still, yet somehow it feels electric. You look at your screen. Sallie Mae reaches out from its webpage to suffocate you with your loans.
You scream and wake up. Thank God it’s just a dream… except for the the student loans.
If your student loans invade your dreams, it’s time for you to take action. Student loans don’t have to ruin your life. There are steps you can take to stop that from happening:
Get a Handle on Your Loan Situation
When it comes to facing debt, avoid fear and complacency. Five or six figures of debt might feel daunting, but loans can’t dictate your life if you remove fear – and its twin, complacency – from your loan situation.
You can take the emotion out of your debt situation by facing the facts. Learn about your loans. Are they federal loans or private loans? How many loans do you have? What are the interest rates you have on each?
A strategic attack requires that you know your enemy. If you know your loans, you’ll have a much easier time knowing whether you should consider refinancing at low interest rates through a company like SoFi – a social financing company – or whether you should consider an income-based repayment plan.
Triage Your Loans
Once you understand your debt, you need to perform triage. If your primary concern is meeting your monthly payments, your best option maybe be federal loan consolidation or an income-driven repayment plan for your federal student loans.
Payment plans don’t need to be permanent solutions. You can use them as a stopgap measure until you have the income and credit you need to refinance.
If you already have excellent credit and free cash flow, consider consolidating and refinancing to loans to lower your interest rates. Refinancing with SoFi also means that you will experience better customer service than federal loan servicers can provide.
Sushil Vundavalli, a business change manager for Adobe who refinanced through SoFi points out, “Customer service doesn’t exist with federal loans. But SoFi customer service was fantastic – I got replies immediately either by email or phone. My SoFi experience was very straightforward, transparent, and positive.”
Focus on Financial Health
Focusing on your financial health will put a stop to your student loan nightmares. Financially healthy activities like paying your loans on time, staying away from consumer debts, and growing your income will increase your fitness and decrease your financial stress. They will also open up new opportunities for student loan refinancing.
The government won’t give you new rates because of your great credit score, but a private company like SoFi will. SoFi wants its members to escape high interest burdens forever.
Ryan O’Leary, a graduate from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin affirmed, “When it comes down to it, I plan on paying off my loans within five years of graduation, so I didn't care if my loan used a fixed rate or a variable rate. That was pretty much exclusively why I chose SoFi. I also appreciated that it was a startup that was trying to fix the loan market. The federal loan rates were stupidly high, and it is true that a loan given to a top MBA student does not involve the same risk as just any student loan.”
Of course, low interest rates aren’t the only thing to consider. Colby Heiner, senior product manager at VMWare explains, “When looking into options to finance my MBA, I wanted to pay as little as possible, and yet still have the protections offered by the federal loan options. SoFi was a no-brainer! When compared to other private loan options – and even some federal – SoFi has the lowest rate, protections similar to Federal loans, and the added bonus of the connections within the SoFi community.”
A history of paying your bills on time, combined with a great income, will allow you to refinance with a company you can trust. Unlike most private lenders, SoFi offers unemployment protections that rival the federal government’s. They even set up networking events and career counseling to help their borrowers increase their income and pay their debts off faster.
Kick Student Loans to the Curb
Once you’ve got low interest rates, great protection, and some healthy savings in place, you can kick your student loans out. Whether you use your lower rates to make monster payments or to invest in your business, you can move on with your life with peace of mind.
Chiara McPhee, cofounder of Bizzy, found peace of mind when she locked in low interest rates without a cosigner. She reports that, “I heard about SoFi in 2011 – my first year at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I was looking for the lowest rates I could find without a cosigner. SoFi was by far the best, and I became one of their first 100 borrowers!”
Likewise, Robbie Reed, business development manager at SpareFoot says, “This is a no-brainer. I’m using the money I’m saving with SoFi to pay down my debt even faster than I originally expected.”
Kicking the loans out is the best way to stop student loans from ruining your life.
(Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS #1121636. Terms and Conditions apply see SoFi.com/legal for details.)