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Where to Start With Addressing
Your Student Loans

By Robert Jacob
Client Support Supervisor and Certified Student Loan Counselor, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester

Student loan debt across the U.S. currently tops $1.4 trillion and is the second highest U.S. consumer debt (only trailing U.S. mortgage debt). The average borrower has a student loan balance of more than $35,000, according to a recent Experian report. While these numbers are certainly concerning to many student loan borrowers, there are ways to help ease the burden when it comes to paying back your student loans.

Collect Information on Your Loans

When students leave college, they are often tempted to put their loan debts out of sight and out of mind. Instead, one of the best things borrowers can do is educate themselves about their loans.

Start by compiling a list of all your outstanding loans. This list should include information including whom the loan is serviced with, the current balance, and the interest rate. For Federal loans, the National Student Loan Data System and has tools available that can provide a centralized view of your federal loans, grants, and aid to get you started. To locate private loans, check your credit report, and you’ll see all your lenders listed, including private servicers. You can also obtain a free copy of your credit report at (note: checking your credit report will not affect your credit score).

Determine Your Budget

Once you’ve compiled a list of your outstanding loans, it’s important to take a look toward your regular income and expenses and determine a budget. Setting a realistic budget and determining how much you can afford to put toward your monthly student loan payments helps you be prepared to pay down your loans. When working on your budget, be sure to write down all your monthly expenses—both fixed and periodic expenses. 

Keep in Contact With Your Servicer

Once you’ve determined how much of a payment you can safely afford, reach out to your student loan servicer to find out what options are available. Your servicer can be an excellent resource for borrowers and can provide you with details on what repayment options are available for your unique situation. By default, students are most often placed in a general repayment plan, geared to pay off the loan in a certain time period (i.e. 10 years). Speaking with your servicer can ease your loan burden and provide information on income-based repayment options, as well as eligibility toward loan forgiveness routes.

While tackling student debt may seem daunting at first, know there are many professionals available to guide you through the process. Locally, Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Rochester has accredited Student Loan Counselors who can help you achieve your student loan goals. You can find more information at or by calling 585.546.3440.

Robert Jacob is a Client Support Supervisor with Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester. He has more than five years’ experience providing resources for financial literacy education enabling the community to achieve their financial goals. Robert is a Certified Student Loan Counselor, Certified Credit Counselor, and Certified Housing Counselor.