Student loans can go a long way toward helping you achieve your educational goals. They can turn something that once didn’t seem possible into a reality. However, upon graduation, those loan payments can begin.

That means balancing finding a job and the basic costs of living on your own with paying back your student loans. It can be overwhelming and sometimes even financially crippling. There are, however, some tried and true student loan payback strategies that can make even the largest debts seem manageable.

Consolidation

One of the most basic student loan payback strategies is to consolidate the loans. If you owe on more than one student loan, rather than balancing multiple payments which can be tough on cash flow, you can consolidate them into one payment. This means one bill each month and a much easier time managing your money.

Repayment Plans

There are four different types of repayment plans. Choosing the one that best meets your needs can mean the difference between barely making ends meet and living well. Here are the four most common types of repayment plans to consider.

* Standard Repayment Plan – This repayment plan means you repay your student loans over the course of ten years. You agree to a fixed monthly payment.

* Graduated Repayment Plan – This plan makes room for the fact that it may be difficult to find a job right after college. Your monthly payments are lower for the first two to five years. Then increase over the remaining years. The plan allows for ten years to pay off your student loans.

* Extended Repayment Plan – This allows for the smallest potential monthly payment and gives students the opportunity to repay their loan for up to thirty years. The downside to this payment plan is that you will pay more interest over the life of the loan.

* Income-Contingent Repayment Plan – Finally, this last payment plan offers a twenty-five year repayment plan and bases monthly payments on the borrower’s income and financial commitments, including family size.

Paying back student loans doesn’t have to be an overwhelming and financially crippling experience. Know what you owe, consider consolidating into one monthly payment and take a look at your repayment options. You have from ten to thirty years to pay back your loan and your interest rates never go up. This makes student loans a viable option to pay for your education.