If you are one of the millions of American burdened by student loan debt, there are ways to turn that IOU into an asset. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
For soon-to-be college grads, the financial future will likely include paying for the past, as Americans owe a collective $1 trillion in student loan debt. Luckily, they have a few options. There are income-based repayment plans, careers or service programs that lead to loan forgiveness, or perhaps the most common strategy: consolidation.
"You can't consolidate federal and private together, but you can consolidate them in packages of like loans," says Adam Levin, chairman and co-founder of credit.com.
This strategy has some pros and cons. You may get a lower interest rate, but you're likely going to extend the length of time you'll be making payments.
The real selling point, according to Levin, is that "it gives you a better chance of never missing a payment, because instead of trying to calculate several different loans and several different interest rates, making payments at several different times, one loan, one rate, one time."
That's important, because any stumble along your financial journey can have repercussions. Not just a late payment fee, but a blot on your credit score.
"35 percent of your credit score relates to your on-time payment history," Levin says. "So if you have a significant debt, like student loan, and you pay on time, it is a credit builder. If you miss a payment, it is a credit destroyer."
A student loan can also give you a longer credit history. It's a history you'll want to continually brush up on, checking your credit report for any inaccuracies or signs of identity theft.
Potential employers may check your credit as well, and you can bet they're taking a peek at more than your financial profile.
Since it's likely they are looking at your Facebook page or Twitter account, Levin says do a hygiene check of your social media life, and remove anything that he says might raise your mother's eyebrows.
"This is now your digital footprint for the rest of the world to see," Levin says. "Human resources departments, admissions departments, insurance companies. That's why it's so important to put your best face forward."
After all, it will be a lot easier to pay back your loans after you land a job.