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The Wild World of Student Loans: What to Do If You’re in Trouble

Posted in The Wild World of Student Loans by Caroline Roberts on February 4, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWarnings about student loans mean nothing if you’re drowning in debt. Anyone at that point shouldn’t be fretting about how they got there. The dream of education is sold harder than a Ronco product, and a bunch of people spent a lot of money for an education that isn’t paying off. What’s important is figuring out

Talk to your lender before you default. By talking to your lender, you might be able to create a payment plan or find a compromise that will keep your loan from defaulting. Once you default, there’s no going back. A deferment might give you some breathing room, but don’t forget that, depending on your situation, the interest will keep on growing.

Do your best to avoid default. If you stop paying, you won’t get to know the lender. You’ll get to know the debt collector, and you’ll face wage garnishment, not to mention a host of other unpleasantries, such as constant phone calls asking you why you haven’t paid up.

More after the jump! William Hogarth: A Rake’s Progress, Plate 4: Arrested For Debt. From Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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The Wild World of Student Loans: Knowing How Much You’ll Need

Posted in The Wild World of Student Loans by Caroline Roberts on February 2, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWhen you receive your financial aid package, you might not be able to determine whether or not it will be enough. So many factors are involved, with cost of living being at the top of the list. Before you sign on the dotted line, you must be sure that you can live on a low, low salary for a long, long time:

Have a rough idea of your budget first. Eh. Why lie? No one ever really sticks to your budget, but you should take a look at your bank statements to find out where your money goes and how much money leaves per month.

Cut out the fun stuff. Hey, you wanted the life of the mind, right? The life of the mind comes with used clothes and the dollar-value menu. Unless …

Get a roommate. I knew very few people who managed to live alone during grad school. Nearly everyone had a roommate. My roommate and I agreed to split utilities and had enough left over for basic cable.

More after the jump! Image of a storefront by Kenneth Allen from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.
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The Wild World of Student Loans: Before You Take the Loan

Posted in The Wild World of Student Loans by Caroline Roberts on January 31, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionAround this time, some of you might be receiving letters of acceptance from grad programs. If you made it in, congratulations! Pop out some cheap bubbly. Then, when you’re done imbibing, start thinking about borrowing some money so you can stay clothed and fed while pursuing your dream.

Unfortunately, the same student loans that seem like a godsend one moment can turn into concrete boots the next. You do not want to be the grad student trying to pay off ridiculous loans when some academic jobs have a starting salary of … wait for it … $28,000. These tips might keep you from feeling trapped in a Dickensian debtor’s prison:

The Big Rule: Don’t go if you aren’t paid for it … at least partially. There’s no reason to get in the way of anyone’s dream, but the school you attend should give you an incentive for working for them. They need to provide a fellowship or a TA-ship. Take moving expenses and cost of living into account as well.

More after the jump! Barney’s Loans sign in Seattle taken by Joe Mabel from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.
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