As we enter into the summer season, a flock of fresh-faced college and university graduates are embarking on the world — they have big dreams, high spirits, and piles of debt.

Sound familiar? It’s easy to feel buried by the money you owe, but digging yourself out of debt is much easier if you have a plan and know your numbers. You managed to pull through stats, survive philosophy and become a legend at your neighbour’s hot tub bonanza (OK, that might have been one of the Smart Cookies) but the point is, if you’re a graduate of higher education we have faith you can put a plan into action to get rid of that debt and start making the money you deserve.

Know What You Owe:
Knowing how much you owe is the first step in taking control. To track your student loan, log on to the Human Resources Development Canada website (, which will tell you exactly how much you owe and when you are required to start repayment. Also, if you have a Federal Student Loan, you may be eligible for Debt Reduction in Repayment Reduction (DRR), a debt management measure designed to help you with repayment if you have long-term financial difficulties. DRR lowers the principal amount of your loan and reduces your monthly loan payment to an affordable level based on your family income.

Make Extra Payments:
In B.C. alone, student loans range from a floating rate of prime plus 2.5 per cent or a fixed rate at prime plus 5 per cent. To avoid paying your student loan for the next 15 years, try making extra payments every year toward that loan. This doesn’t have to be a huge chunk of money, but even if you start putting away an extra $100-$200 each month, you will have $1,220-$2,400 to put toward your student loan, decreasing the amount of years left to contribute. Treat your student loan like any other type of debt you may have. The faster you pay it down, the faster you can free up your money for more fun and lucrative things.

Contact a Financial Planner:
You are not alone in figuring out how to pay down your student loan. There are a number of options on how to best pay it down and a financial planner can assist you in figuring out these options. Whether it’s lowering the interest rate on your student loan or consolidating your student loan with other debt you may have to a lower interest rate loan, it’s worth meeting with an expert to find out your best options. One of the best ways to find a financial planner is to ask family, friends and colleagues for referrals.

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