On Your Side: Get ready to pay your student loans

Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 6:04 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Nearly 45 million Americans will have another monthly bill in a few weeks. After three years of suspension, student loan repayments are back.

You probably remember this summer when the Biden administration’s plan for student loan forgiveness was overturned. Now, there’s a new plan called SAVE. We told you SAVE should help about half of borrowers with their federal loans by lowering monthly payments. Now’s the time to figure out your balance and get organized.

Kendra Collins is a licensed professional counselor on the road to one day becoming Dr. Collins.

“I love what I do. I could not do it without the education I have. I would do it all over again, absolutely,” said Collins.

She owes more than $100,000 in student loans.

“For me, it’s almost $700 a month. So it’s scary,” she said.

She’s also a single mother.

“I’m not sure how I’m going to pay for the kid’s school lunches. If I can’t work, I’m going to lose my home,” she said.

And yet, she has a master’s degree.

“There are fields that we do not get paid as well as should for the education that we have. Counseling right now, you can’t find a counselor with open spots. But the reason why we are not attracting enough is because we don’t make enough money to survive a lot of the time. So how are we supposed to pay those student loans on barely surviving in a field that really is essential for our well-being?” asked Collins.

Collins says these are her loans, and she’ll pay them back.

“I don’t have a problem working for those years to do that. As long as I can make a living at the same time,” she said.

She’s one of the millions who must make a plan now.

“The worst thing you can do is ignore it and pretend it’s not happening because it’s happening,” said Becky Ahrens with Drury University.

Financial Aid experts say first, figure out how much you owe.

Head to this website. Review your account. Is your info correct?

“Make sure they have updated contact info, especially your email address,” said Ahrens.

Loan interest starts accruing on September 1. Payments are due in October.

“If you can’t afford it, contact your servicer. That’s the best thing you can do. There are lots of options for repayment terms. Be sure to contact your servicer if you don’t think you can afford your repayment,” said Ahrens.

With 45 million Americans having more than $1.75 trillion in student loan debt, some borrowers believe a mass boycott could pack a bunch with lawmakers. Money experts say don’t do it. Even though the Biden administration said missed payments between October and next September won’t be considered delinquent, not paying a bill will eventually hurt your credit. Plus, that interest keeps growing.

Collins wants more payment options, but she’s taking it one month at a time.

“Just bracing. Hope I can keep up with clients and get enough business to maintain,” said Collins.

If you can’t pay your student loan bill, consider these things.

  • Under the SAVE plan, you might owe as little as $0 monthly. SAVE also covers unpaid interest. Balances don’t balloon as long as monthly payments are made on time.
  • Check your employee benefits. Keep this in mind if you’re looking for a new job. More employers these days match student loan payments up to a certain amount.
  • Get a side hustle. Use the upcoming holiday shopping season to your advantage and make extra money.

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