debt

8 ways 20-somethings can deal with debt

Get a grip on student loans
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Get a grip on student loans

Student loans may likely be your largest debt. The average college graduate leaves school with $24,000 in loan debt, according to a study on 2009 graduates conducted by the Project on Student Debt, a nonprofit research group in Oakland, Calif.

But it doesn't have to be stressful. "Usually you can get a lower rate if you consolidate your student loans," Ryan says.

The U.S. Department of Education says grads can consolidate almost all federal student loans, including Stafford, Perkins and Student PLUS Loans. But they probably can't consolidate federal with private loans.

Newbie grads also can get help by choosing the right payment plan. Federal loans are usually put on a standard 10-year repayment plan. But, struggling borrowers can opt for an extended plan that lowers monthly payments by extending the life of their student loan. Unemployed and underpaid grads should opt for the income-based repayment plan, which caps monthly payments at 15 percent of yearly earnings that are more than $16,335.


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