Yes, it’s hard to believe. But, for most of you with student loans, your first payment is probably due this month.
How do I know? I was in your exact shoes two years ago.
I was on an 8-hour drive for my job (not fun) and in the middle of the 5th radio appearance of Pharrell William’s “Happy” I realized my first loan payment was due that day. I pulled out my crappy, quasi-smart phone and tried to make my payment on the side of the road.
After navigating the worst website in history, I managed to click the payment button before my browser crashed — did I make my payment? Only the internet gods knew for sure.
When I finally got home and logged on from my laptop, it hit me. I had already signed up for automatic loan payments and my side-of-the-road payment also went through.
I made a double payment — not because of my financial acumen — but because of my disorganization.
I ate lots of Ramen that month. This is definitely not an experience to emulate and I’m going to try and make up for it by giving you really solid advice.
Here are 5 essential things you should do before making your first payment:
- Read this article from the New York Times. It walks you through a lot of scenarios and links to other great resources.
- Get Organized. Figure out if you have federal loans or private loans (or both) and how many. It’s probably easiest to ask your parents, look at old mail, or check your email — you loan provider has almost certainly tried to contact you by now.
- Pick a repayment plan. There are several types and many loans have an option for income-based repayment. Also, if you are in grad school, make sure to defer your loans.
- Don’t make your payment late. They are already going to get enough of your money. Don’t give them any extra.
- Get your free UVM Alumni Association Bottle Opener. This is our way of easing the pain of that first payment. Open your favorite Vermont beverage with it, sink into your couch, and start a Netflix binge. You earned it.