There are countless headlines about how student loan debt is a national crisis, but if you’re facing huge monthly payments, it probably feels a lot more personal. The New York Times reported in the fall of 2015 that 41 million Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and according to Pew Research Center, millennials on average owe $27,000. This isn't a problem facing a small number of Americans; it's likely that your friends, coworkers, and the guy sitting across from you on the subway are all feeling overwhelmed by student loan debt.
Unfortunately, this debt is holding millennials back from reaching major milestones. Want to change careers, get married, start a family, buy a house? It's a whole lot harder when you're bogged down with big monthly loan payments and stagnant wages. We earn less than our parents did at our age, despite the fact that more of us went to college.
It's downright depressing, and you can feel like you don't have a future because you're bogged down paying for your past. But it's not forever, and there are ways to make your payments more manageable.
I teamed up with Refinery29 financial expert Priya Malani to get her best advice for tackling crippling student loan debt. The bad news first: You're probably going to have to make some sacrifices to get rid of this debt. But there's good news: You won't be making these sacrifices forever. And, as long as you make those monthly payments on time, most banks consider this "good debt," like having a mortgage or making car payments. You're building your credit as you go, and that's never a bad thing.
Ahead, Priya and I offer 14 steps for making your loan repayment as painless as possible, so you can get the debt paid down and move on to other things.
Note: We’ll also be doing a Facebook Live session on Thursday, May 19 at 3:00 p.m. ET, where we will answer all the awesome student loan-related questions you might have.