The amount of student loan debt in the US has started to become a big news item and, for a long time, it has already been a significant burden for many people. Business Insider, reporting data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, put the unpaid student loan debt in the US at $1.1 trillion.

 

As they point out, it’s important to keep in mind that this does not include the debt that students owe to private lenders. That figure would take it even higher. Just as there has been a lot of reporting on the amount of student debt in the nation, there has been a lot of reporting geared toward helping people deal with student loan debt. That these two types of stories are so prominent right now rather points to the fact that a lot of people are struggling with this type of debt.

 

Here are five things you can do, some of which you may be able to do right now, that can make dealing with student loan debt easier. The one thing that remains true is that, whether you take these pieces of advice or other pieces of good advice, not having enough money to pay back your student debt is always going to be difficult and there is always a drawback to any of the measures you can take to minimize the damage. These only apply to money you owe to the federal government. You may not have these options with private lenders.

 

Get a Forbearance or Deferment

 

If you can’t make your payments or are behind on your payments already, consider asking for deferment or forbearance. Either one of these postpones your payments or reduces them. The deferment is harder to get, but the government may cover the interest on your loan during the deferment. During forbearance, you might get a reduced payment or not have to make payments at all, but interest will accrue.

 

Get a Different Payment Plan

 

There are several different payment plans available from the federal government. They include ones that are designed to make the transition from college to work easier with lowered initial monthly payments that gradually increase, extended payment plans and others. Be sure to ask about these, because they might make monthly payments a lot less painful.

 

Take Your Entire Financial Profile Into Account

 

Consider the things that may be making it difficult to pay back your student loan rather than the amount of debt that you owe to the government. For example, if you have a lot of private debt that’s chewing up your income every month, getting rid of that might make it manageable for you to repay your student loans. There are different strategies for doing this, but the obvious is to simply cut back on spending and to start paying down those debts. It’s not an instant fix, but it could pay off later on.

 

Consolidate Your Loans

 

After you do take into account your entire financial profile, you may realize that you’re paying several different entities for your student debt. Consider consolidating your loans as a means of simplifying your payment process and, perhaps, lowering your monthly payments. The thing to keep in mind, however, is that reducing your monthly payments may actually mean that you end up paying back more money for your student debt in the long run.

 

Be Realistic

 

Some people are going to find themselves in the worst possible situation. They’re going to have to start thinking about which debts they’re not going to be able to repay. It is possible to get a student loan discharged in a bankruptcy, but it’s harder than getting private debt discharged.

 

If you are in the worst possible situation, and if you know that you can’t make your bills and keep a roof over your head, you may want to talk to a lawyer about your options. One of the hardest things about facing a situation like this down is the feeling of failure. As was pointed out at the beginning of this article, there’s over $1 trillion in outstanding student debt in the US. That’s a huge amount of money and a lot of people are dealing with far more debt than they can afford.

 

Whatever you do, don’t default on your student loans. The government will generally work with borrowers to try to find a solution that doesn’t end in the worst case for the borrower, which can include having wages garnished, having some Social Security benefits taken away and more.