Got College Debt? Here’s How You Can Still Travel
Guest Post By Jacob, the voice over at @DollarDiligence. Jacob knows quite a bit about student debt, in fact, he paid down over $25k. Jacob is working to help and inspire others to take control of their finances.
If you’re one of the 40 million Americans who has student loan debt, you may think that you’re trapped by them. Owing thousands upon thousands of dollars can make you feel like you’ll never have enough money to travel after graduation. I’ve been there and I’ve done that.
But there are ways to lower your student loan payments and take advantage of your grace period, so that you can get out and see the world (or even visit family) like you’ve always dreamed.
Travel during the grace period.
What’s the grace period for student loans? That’s the time the government gives you between your graduation and when you have to start paying back your student loans. During this time, your loans will still continue to build interest, but you won’t have to make payments.
In theory, this time is for you to find a job so that you can start paying back your loans, but it’s totally possible to take some time to travel. It’s tough to say how long the grace period lasts because different federal loans have different terms associated with them, and private loans can be different as well. Regardless of the grace period, you can surely take a couple weeks off during this time to go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.
NOTE: Please remember that Federal PLUS Student Loans do not have a grace period, and they come due right after they’ve been fully paid out to you. If you can’t start repaying them at that time, you can ask for something called a deferment.
Defer your student loans
The best way to buy yourself some time on student loan repayment is through processes called deferment and forbearance. You will have to meet certain requirements, but deferring your loans will give you some time to travel before you have to worry about repaying them.
The specific rules vary and a forbearance is different than a deferment, but basically they mean you can either not pay anything or pay just the interest on your loans. Remember, though, if you aren’t paying anything on your loans, that interest is still adding up and rolling into your principal, so it may be in your best interest to pick a deferment option that allows you to pay the interest on your student loans.
Also, certain loans can be deferred while others can’t, so you’ll have to check with your student loan provider to see what you can do. To make it even more complicated, some loans are automatically deferred if you enter school again, so that is always an option.
Look into income-driven repayment plans
Income-driven repayment plans are different options available through the government that can help you reduce your monthly payments on your loans if your college debt is much larger than what you make annually.
In short, they look at your income and determine what’s reasonable for you to pay every month and also afford to live and eat. Your monthly payment will be capped between 10% and 20% of your monthly discretionary income.
If you didn’t land that sweet job right out of college, income-driven repayment plans can help you get reasonably low payments so you can still travel. But what if you don’t have a job?
Here’s a secret: you can travel and have a job to pay back your student loans at the same time! You can make money while you travel by signing up with a service that sends English teachers to other parts of the world. Many of these programs require at least a bachelor’s degree, so they’re perfect for recent grads. Alternatively, you could find a job that lets you work remotely while you travel.
Refinance your student loans
The easiest way to free up some extra money for traveling is to refinance and consolidate your student loans to reduce the interest rate. This saves college grads money in the short term by lowering monthly payments, but it also saves grads money in the long run by reducing interest as well.
When you refinance, you also get lower payments just like with an income-driven plan, only you get the added benefit of reducing your interest rate. With a lower interest rate, your principal isn’t growing as fast, so you can have more money to travel in the future, too!
While it may seem like wanderlust and student loans are incompatible, it’s totally possible for you to get a college education and then be able to travel. You just need to be smart about your student loans. Read all the fine print and pay attention to things like the grace period and deferment options, and you can buy yourself some time to see the world.
Big THANKS to Jacob at www.dollardiligence.com for this helpful write up! If you would like to post any guest content to TravelingTricks.com please feel free to get in touch! We reciprocate!