6 Resources That Physicians Need to Tackle Student Loan Debt
When you stop to think about your tackling student loan debt, does it make you want to curl up in a ball and hide in your closet forever?
You are not alone – student loan debt is a cringe-inducing topic for most people.
And as a Physician, you probably don’t have a small amount either. Your debt is easily within the six-figure range.
If you are reading this, you or someone you love most likely have sacrificed an incredible amount of time and money in order to make a career out of medicine. Who knew that becoming a doctor could be so expensive? And when you first took on your loans years ago, you probably assumed one day you would be making such a large salary that it would cover your debt without any problems.
But then the reality set in. Now you know how hard it is to make those large monthly payments Every. Single. Month. Couple that with starting a career, a family, buying a home and you soon realize how student loan debt is a very real (and alarming!) aspect of being a Physician.
It can be downright overwhelming.
But believe it or not, this is where the good news comes in.
You are not alone in this effort to figure out a way to pay your student loan debt. There are numerous resources for student loan debt that you can utilize to help you get this payment under control.
You might be at odds with whether to invest or pay down your debt? This show might interest you with White Coat Investor!
Why Tackling Student Loan Debt Right Now Matters
The fact that you are reading this and trying to figure out your next steps in conquering student loan debt is a great first step. Don’t let the fact that debt feels so overwhelming keep you from making a wise financial decision. Let’s get you started on your path to paying off what you owe.
Before we move on to the resources, let’s briefly set the stage on why now is an important time as ever to get your plan together for debt payment.
At a very basic level, student loan debt has to be repaid. Unless it is an extreme circumstance (as in death or disability) then you have to find a way to make your payments. Not paying on time, or at all, can make your financial situation go from bad to worse quickly.
Late and missed payments will affect your credit score and follow you for a long, long time.
Secondly, these loans are not free. They weren’t loaned to you out of the kindness of anyone’s heart. The loan is designed so the loan provider can make money from the interest you are paying. Every month that you still carry a balance is another month that someone else is making money off of you.
We understand that it’s not always realistic to avoid debt in the first place or to pay off a large lump sum all at once. So where do you turn when you need answers to questions about the monthly payments that you have right now?
6 Resources To Help Physicians Tackle Student Loan Debt
As mentioned earlier, you are not alone in this quest to find out what your best financial option is. You may even be surprised to find out that you have more than one option available for your consideration. And while the internet is full of financial advice you should run very far away from, there are places you can turn for real, actionable advice so you know your options.
- Information about Student Loan Servicers
You may be wondering why you need to research various types of student loans when you have already taken a loan out. We find these websites to be useful because they help you access your federal student loan information and give you a place to start.
- For Federal Loans
Start with the website www.nslds.ed.gov or www.studentloans.gov first if you are unsure who your lender is if you currently have a federal student loan. Both of these websites have detailed information on all the different types of federal loans.
You can even log in to find out your specific federal student loans that are on record and exactly how much you owe. These websites have lots of information on a variety of topics about loans and loan payments. You’ll find these are good websites to bookmark no matter what questions you may have about your loans.
- For Private Loans
If you have a private loan (one loaned to you by a private organization such as a bank or credit union) these websites can still offer helpful information to you.
Also, if you are trying to figure out who has issued the private loans, you can always pull your credit report to find out the loan servicer. You can pull your credit report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Information for Refinancing Your Student Loans
Maybe you have a good grasp on the amount of student loans you need to repay but you also know you need to somehow alter your monthly payment. If you are interested in learning more about refinancing your loans but aren’t sure where to start then keep reading.
You can turn quite a few places when you need help deciphering all the repayment plans that might be available to you.
Once you start researching different repayment options, you will quickly realize how complex it is. We have reviewed many resources and have found three that we would recommend.
Andy and his team at studentloanhero.com make it easy for you to understand what refinancing will look like for you and your situation. There is a calculator to make it super easy to see the impact it could have on your monthly payment.
- Information about Loan Consolidation for Your Student Loans
A great resource for student loan debt, especially the loan consolidation aspect, is the studentaid.gov website. It’s a website from the U.S. Department of Education and has a wealth of information on student loans. While the site is not necessarily targeted to those with medical school debt, it is a helpful resource if you have questions about loan consolidation and what all it entails.
Keep in mind – as with most everything associated with student loan debt – there are pros and cons for loan consolidation. The studentaid website is useful because it breaks it down for you and presents several ways of looking at loan consolidation.
There are different rules in place for loan consolidation based on whether or not you have federal student loans or private student loans. You may even have both types of loans so it’s important for you to have information on both at your fingertips.
- Questions about the PSLF Program
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, or PSLF for short, and are interested in finding out more. Maybe you have heard of it and wondered what all it entails. Either way, you owe it to yourself to explore this avenue and see if it is an option for you.
If you have a PSLF job then you may actually qualify for loan forgiveness. There are many, many details and nuances involved when it comes to the PSLF program and it’s not something to be entered into lightly.
With that being said, if you are looking for information specifically about the PSLF program, then start with the consumerfinance.gov site.
You can also find information about the PSLF program on the other websites that have been mentioned in sections 1 and 2 such as studentloanhero.com.
- Information Regarding the PAYE and REPAYE Options
We have written before about the PAYE and REPAYE programs and it is worth visiting again. REPAYE is an acronym for Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan. These programs fall under the Income-Driven Repayment category.
The REPAYE program is designed for those that currently have a Direct Loan (other federal loans are not eligible for this service). Basically, this is a repayment plan with monthly payments that are generally equal to 10% of your income, divided by 12.
The PAYE program is slightly different in that you have to have borrowed the money since October 1, 2007 and have received a disbursement on or after October 1, 2011.
You will see the PAYE and REPAYE acronyms a lot when you are researching options for restructuring your loan payments. So if you need to learn more then be sure to check out the Department of Education’s information about these programs.
- The Military and Student Loan Debt
Of course, there are many special circumstances out there when it comes to student debt, and if you were (or still are) a member of the U.S. Armed Forces then you definitely have more information to consider. You should definitely take the time to find out what additional benefits are available to you for loan forgiveness.
A good place to start is with the studentaid.gov site. This will give you an overview of the different options available to you, whether it’s loan forgiveness, refinancing, or questions in general.
What do I do With These Resources for Student Loan Debt?
At this point, you may not know exactly which route you want to take when it comes to your student loans and that’s okay. Part of the process is deciding what is best for you and your family.
Here are some quick tips when trying to navigate through all of the information that is out there.
- Research one option at a time
This sounds easy but when you are busy looking at everything, you can quickly become engulfed and get sidetracked from one website to another. Instead, pick a time to evaluate one option at a time. Whether it’s loan consolidation, loan re-financing, or the PSLF, PAYE or REPAYE programs. Pick one topic to review in one sitting and work your way through it.
- The approach is unique to you
Remember, it’s not a one-size fits all approach (if it were that easy then there wouldn’t be so many companies out there offering lots of different loan products). Student Loan Debt and the path to repayment is different for everyone and every family. What works best for your life, may not make the most sense for everyone else.
- Consider the source of information carefully
Carefully pay attention to any website you are on if they are asking you to pay fees. This is especially true of loan consolidation websites and debt restructuring plans. Many of these sites look like government agencies but they are in it to make money. Not every site is a scam but pay careful attention to any place that is asking you for credit card information.
- A consultation may be necessary
You wouldn’t enter into a real estate transaction or handle a legal matter without the help of an expert. Student loan debt sometimes requires the extra help of one-on-one consultations. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call the toll free numbers at these agencies. As mentioned previously, you can also call a reputable company and pay a consultation fee if necessary.
Navigating Through the Resources for Student Loan Debt
The bottom line is that student loan debt doesn’t have to overwhelm your life. We know it’s not the easiest topic to discuss but there are resources for student loan debt that can help you maneuver through the conversation.
If you take the time to break down the research into manageable chunks, then you will feel a lot more at ease when it comes to discussing your debt. Our goal is to make sure you have a trustworthy list of resources for student loan debt so you are empowered to make a decision.
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