Here’s what I ask current student loan borrowers about their loans when we talk about their finance plans:
- What are your biggest goals? What would you be doing if you could do anything? Then we talk about how to get as close at that to possible in the context of loan repayment.
- Do you know about IBR (Income Based Repayment) and are you signed up for it? If not, then we talk about how to sign up, and what the accrual of interest might mean in the long term.
- Do you know about the biggest student loan forgiveness plans, and are you signed up? Interest Forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, (regular) Loan Forgiveness, and Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
- Have you ever called, yes—on the phone, the loan office? If not we talk about how phone calls are the most effective way to get things done, get info, and keep moving forward effectively with student loans. Also calling about a money issue is great adulthood practice!
- Do you know what APR you’re paying? If not, we learn how to get that info. Once we get it, we talk about a repayment strategy that has the borrower paying whatever extra they can on the loan with the highest APR in order to knock it out faster.
Finally, I think it’s unwise to force a 2–3 minute reply about something as complex as someone’s student loan reality, even though that’s approximately what loan officers give folks when signing up for a student loan. It’s a 10–20-year payment commitment, give people breathing room!