Photo by Emma Dakin.

Whether it be private or federal, most of us have acquired an unsightly, but necessary lump of debt to fund our college education that we’d rather just forget about.  But as graduation rapidly approaches, reality sets in as do the looming monthly payments. When you finally pluck up the courage to take a look at the damage, you may feel a twinge of regret wondering if it was all worth it. It’s intimidating, and if we’re being honest, downright scary to think that we have to pay so many thousands of dollars back while trying to figure out how to earn thousands of dollars with the skills we’ve learned. I’ve gone through all the above and have wracked my brain trying to figure a way out of the money pit I now find myself in, two months away from graduation.  I’ve dwelled on what I owe, pulled at my hair and buried my face in my hands wishing it would just go away, but I’ve also learned to put it in perspective, take a breather and stop worrying about it, for a few reasons.

Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t sweat your student loan debt:

1. You don’t have to pay it back all at once

It’s overwhelming, I know, but it doesn’t have to be.  You aren’t expected to pay it all back in one huge chunk, so don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself to do so. But if you can, by all means, do so. Ideally, I think that’s what everyone would prefer.  To make it disappear with one click.  I encourage you to get it paid off as quickly as possible, however, not everyone finds themselves with that kind of financial abundance at one time. Therefore, just break it down into bite size pieces so you can manage what you owe according to your income.  It may take you a little longer than you’d like, but don’t allow it to choke you or keep you from living your life.  You’re going to make it.

2. You have repayment options

Depending on your financial situation after graduation, it’s good to know that there are a variety of repayment options to choose from such as loan consolidation and paying according to your income.  Depending on your employer, you may also be eligible to receive student loan forgiveness through The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. With a little digging and research, you won’t find yourself stranded and lost if you know about the options available to you that match your unique situation. Make sure to stay in contact with your student loan providers and communicate your concerns before you even find yourself in a bind and drowning in debt you can’t control.

3. You’re not alone

Though this isn’t exactly a solution to making our money problems disappear, it is a comforting thought, at least to me, to know that I’m not the only one to have ever gone through this process.  It’s an individual matter that we have to take care of on our own, but that doesn’t mean we have to do it alone. We have a huge support system around us, especially from the people who have managed their way through it successfully. We would be wise to embrace the advice and guidance of those who have faced the fire before us and be an encouragement to each other.  We’re all in this together.

So don’t sweat it. It’s true that student debt is a financial burden no one wants to have, but it is a necessary means to where we want to end up and it doesn’t have to control our lives in the process.  It doesn’t have to limit us or make us feel trapped. With hard work, a positive attitude and support, we’ll have it wiped away before we know it.