Managing your student loans can seem a bit of a daunting task. With all the ins and outs of the loan repayment process, it can be pretty confusing, too. Here are a few tips on how to manage all those loans without inadvertently making them worse.

First of all, don’t go into forbearance

Forbearance might seem like a great option at first, especially if you’re struggling to make payments. With practically no qualifications necessary to set it up, you’re just a phone call away from not needing to make payments for the time during which you set it up. If you have a sudden emergency, like a large medical bill, forbearance might be good for some quick emergency relief.

However, what most people don’t realize is that your loans continue to accrue interest while they’re in forbearance. While you don’t have to make monthly payments, you’re still adding major costs to your overall loans, so it’s actually not a good option, and should definitely only be used as a last resort.

Use deferment instead

For certain loans, deferment is a much better option than forbearance. It takes a little extra paperwork at the beginning of the process, and you do have to meet certain qualifications. However, if your subsidized or Perkins loans are in deferment, they do not accrue interest, which means your overall payment will be lower in the long run.

It’s a little more effort than forbearance, but a much better financial step. Always apply for deferment first, before you even think about forbearance.

Income-driven repayment plans

You can also adjust the rate at which you pay off your loans. Income-driven repayment plans are just what they sound like: you apply to restructure your payment plans based off of your income. Under certain circumstances, you might not pay anything at all until you reach a certain income level, or you might pay very little every month.

There are a lot of options for paying off your student loans. Make sure you find the one that works best for you and your financial situation, without accidentally trapping yourself in a financial hole.