Last October, it happened - I received letters stating that I had to start repaying my student loans in November.  In November, I went online to consolidate my loans, but I was not able to consolidate them with my loan provider. 

Without consolidation my loan payment would cost over $300 a month.  Obviously, I could not afford a monthly that high so, I applied for forbearance for a few months - to buy me some time while I searched for a student loan consolidator.  

I finally found a reputable company and applied for consolidation; I was approved for the program within sixty days.  During the application process, I had to choose my plan.  There are several repayment plans to consider, so it is very important to review each one carefully.   

The student loan repayment plans are:

  • Standard
  • Extended
  • Graduated
  • Income Based Contingent Plan (IBR)
  • Income Contingent Repayment (ICR)
  • Income Sensitive Repayment 

More information on these plans can be found at www.studentaid.ed.gov

I first enrolled in the graduate plan, because my monthly payments would initially be lower than the standard plan.  My payment will increase every two years, but I'm able to change my plan whenever I want or need to. 

I haven't found a full-time job and making the monthly payments has been a struggle.  So, once again I declared forbearance.  I first opted to try the ICR plan, which is income-based, but considering my current income, my payments would be $0 for the next six months, which would actually cause me to accrue more interest than being in forbearance.  Turns out, I would actually owe more money in the long run.   

Student loan repayment and consolidation can be very involved and confusing.  If not careful, you can end up in a real financial mess.  REMEMBER - you should always contact your provider when you have questions.  I always say, the more you inquire, the more you'll know!  

I've learned a lot about student loan repayment over the last ten months and I'm still learning.  I'm constantly calling my consolidator to ask questions and to make sure everything is running smoothly.   

Are you currently in student loan repayment?  If so, what plan are you in? What plan do you think is best?  Share with us any tips you may have in the Comments.