New grads should be proactive to understand their student loan...

New grads should be proactive to understand their student loan repayment obligations. Credit: Getty Images / iStock

Graduation is around the corner for college seniors. With all the joy, there’s also the reality that soon they’ll start paying for their educations. The end of the typical six-month grace period on federal student loans comes quickly.

Freshly minted grads don’t want to fail their next big test – managing their loans. Here are a few pointers.

Know where you stand: “Prioritize tracking down how much student loan debt you owe, and who your loan owners and/or servicers are,” says Melisa Boutin, a certified financial education instructor and financial coach in Woodbury.

Get that information for federal loans from the National Student Loan Data System’s website, and request a copy of your credit report at for your private student loans.

Get the facts: Find out if your loans are in a grace period and how long it lasts. Determine how much accrued interest is outstanding on each loan and the type of repayment plans each loan offers.

Prepare to pay: Use one of many online student loan calculators to estimate your monthly payment. “This will help you decide how much rent you can afford, which repayment plan you’ll choose and more. Use this number to build a budget,” says Brianna McGurran, a student loan expert at

Be savvy: “Avoid paying interest on top of interest by paying all or a portion of any outstanding accrued interest during the post-graduation grace period, before it is added to the principal balance through capitalization,” Boutin says.

Explore income-based repayment plans but realize that in the long run, these plans increase the total cost of your debt.

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