You’ve finished college and now that your student loans are due, you’re in more financial difficulties than ever. So as a student in financial trouble, you need help. Can you get financial aid for paying back student loans?
The truth is, no. It doesn’t exist. But you do have some options, and there is some financial help available from the department of education as well.
If you’re having trouble paying off student loans, one of the basic options is consolidation. If you want to play this card later, you can get through temporary financial difficult by deferring or forbearing payment. Stafford loans offer deferments but some private lenders do not; they are generally granted for unemployment or other economic hardship, or if you are still studying.
During deferment, you can either pay the interest only, or you can capitalize the interest, adding it to the total debt and paying interest on the interest after the deferment period. If your loan is subsidized, the government pays the interest during the deferment. If your loan was a need-based subsidized federal loan, you will receive help in this form if you have trouble paying back your loan.
Lenders may or may not allow a forbearance due to extreme circumstances. Generally they last 12 months, and interest continues to accumulate in every case.
Avoid defaulting a student loan. You can lose access to financial aid or social security services, your wages can be garnished, your tax returns withheld, and your professional title suspended or revoked.
If you’re in danger of defaulting or just want to spread your debt over a longer period of time with a lower monthly payment, you can consolidate the loan, either through a private lender or with the Department of Education.
This is the only way to actually reduce the amount you have to pay with help from the government; if your debt is consolidated there are different plans you can use that will allow you to pay the debt in a way that is convenient to your situation. If your situation changes, you can switch between plans as well.
You can pay off the loan in steady payments over a long period of time, or extend it for up to 30 years (or more with some services) with lower monthly payments but a higher accumulated total. You can opt for a graduated plan, allowing you to pay lower payments now to give you a chance to get out of financial trouble, and the payments increase in steps over time.
There are also income-based plans. In these plans, your income is taken into account as well as your expenses and household size, and if you are impoverished you do not have to pay. The downside is that in order to get out of paying the debt, you have to remain in poverty the rest of your life.
While there is no financial aid for paying back student loans, the government and private lenders do offer options to ease the actual financial burden of the loans.