Drowning In Student Loan Debt? What Are Your Options?

If you're like many American students, your college studies required you to take out a sizable amount in student loans. In fact, nearly three quarters of college graduates begin their new careers while carrying at least some student loan debt, and the average debt load for this cohort totals nearly $30,000. Unfortunately, entering the job market with this amount of debt can make it difficult to do many of the things your peers are doing -- taking out a car loan, buying a house, or paying for a wedding. You may despair that you'll be living under the burden of student loans until you're nearly ready for retirement.

Fortunately, there are now a number of options that can help make your loan repayment process less stressful. Read on to learn more about how you may be able to reduce the impact these loan payments have on your lifestyle.

Can debt consolidation help with your student loans?

Because the federal government places fairly low limits on the amount of funds you're able to borrow through federally-backed student loans each year, many students turn to the private lending market -- and these private loans can carry a wide variety of repayment terms and interest rates. Often, a debt consolidation company can help bundle these loans into a refinancing program that will lower the interest rate and extend the repayment term to make these payments more affordable on your current budget. As your income increases, you'll be able to throw some extra funds at this debt to pay it off more quickly.

Alternatively, the debt consolidation company can attempt to "settle" these loans with the lender for less than the repayment amount. This is usually an option only if your debt load is so high that you'll be unable to make even the monthly minimum payments on your current income. 

What else can you do to minimize your monthly student loan payments?

If your student loans are primarily federal, you may be able to take advantage of one of the income-based repayment programs. These programs tailor your minimum monthly payment to your gross income, keeping this payment at an affordable level to allow you to fund the rest of your necessities without going into further debt. As your income rises, your payment will rise as well. This option will generally stretch out the term of your loan, but can provide you with some breathing room during the beginning of your post-college career.

Continue here to learn more.