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College graduation is the point where everything gets real. You really do have a degree. You really did graduate. And your student loan repayment really is coming.

Stay calm

First thing to remember, don’t freak out. You do have the grace period. If you can pay interest on the student loans, great. Absolutely do it if you can. Otherwise, you have about six months before you have to make your first payment.

Be proactive

Next, call your loan servicer. If you don’t know who that is, then check out your account on Get in touch with them to find out what your payments will be and, if the standard amount is too high for your current income, find out what other income-sensitive payment plans you could be eligible for. Remember, you do have to update your information each year to remain on the income-sensitive plans so don’t lose track of when you need to send that information in.

Look for options

Once the loan payment is set, see if you can get a bit of extra help. Employers are sometimes willing to contribute to employee financial wellness by setting up a paycheck deduction for student loan repayment. The program available through iontuition actually allows employers to deduct a bit of a paycheck and match it each pay period. The employer match may only be $10 per pay period, but that can add up much quicker than you think.

Other options are loan forgiveness for public service occupations like emergency services and public school teaching. See what benefits employers have when applying for jobs to see what they have to offer and how it could help you.

Remember your budget

Make a budget and stick to it. It may not be fun to be on one, but it can be a lifesaver. Leave yourself a bit of wiggle room by not spending every last dollar. Leaving yourself a cushion will let you be prepared for any minor emergencies that may pop up like needing a new tire for your car.

Student loan repayment is one of the big rites of adulthood these days. Admittedly, not one of the more fun ones. But successful student loan management means better finances and fewer problems. Once the student loans are managed, you can focus on other goals like buying a home and working on your career. And if you feel too much like an adult, just remember you can now have ice cream for dinner if you want.

Tom Wray

Tom Wray is all about the research, getting it right, and making it relevant. He’s got solid journalistic experience in all forms of content delivery – and he’s got his keyboard humming with what’s up and important for students, college admins, parents, employers and news junkies.