Three Tips to Tackle Student Loan Debt MADE February 23, 2016 MADE INC, Personal Development MADE by Jasmine Browley When a rapper’s first ever smash hit has the hook “I finished paying Sallie Mae back!,” you know it’s bad. About two-thirds of Millennials have at least one source of long-term debt, usually a student loan, with an average balance of $40,000. Total student-loan debt in the U.S. is more than $1.2 trillion. Sad. So if you’re a Millennial with hard-to-manage student debt, what should you do about it? It’s a tough problem to solve, but here are some approaches that work: 1. Know your options. The average repayment life of student loan is typically 10 years, but you can curate a payment plan that can result in stretching it to a longer term. Getting a deferment due to unemployment or underemployment is also an option. Find out if these options are available and TAKE ADVANTAGE of them! If deferment is your best option, look into at least paying your interest during that period. Otherwise, you’ll wind up with a bigger loan than you had before. 2. Serve the public. Working for a service based organizations, including law enforcement and teaching that offer loan forgiveness is a great way to pay down debt, but you may need to commit to the job for a certain period of time. Crowdfunding in exchange for volunteer efforts are also an option. Check out SponsorChange.org or Crowdcrux.com for more information. 3. Consolidate your loans. If you have a combination of private and public loans are your dilemma and it’s leading to missed payments, try student-loan consolidation. If you have a variable-rate loan–highly possible if your loan is more than 10 years old–then consolidating to a fixed-rate loan is definitely a good idea, as interest rates are primed to rise in the coming years. If you have federal student loans, consolidate them with a federal consolidation loan rather than switching to a private lender, as you would lose the various advantages that come with a federal loan.