Graduating from college is one of the most exciting and fulfilling accomplishments you can achieve. Not only have you dedicated years of your life to bettering yourself through higher education, but you have also taken steps to set yourself up for success in the real world.

Graduating college can also be one of the most terrifying things, however, as the months after doing so will mark the beginning of your student loan repayment schedule. If you have graduated college only to find yourself buried in debt, it is important to stay calm and understand that not all is lost. In fact, there are certain things you can do in order to make paying off your student loan much easier than you might have previously imagined.

Evaluate Your Repayment Plan

The agreement that you have with your lender to pay back your student loan might be a complete mystery to you. If you were able to take a good look at the particulars at all, you would have potentially done so years ago and might not recall the exact parameters in place. Now is the time to familiarize yourself with exactly what you owe and the timescale in which you are expected to pay it back.

If you don’t like what you see, or you don’t believe that the original agreement that you signed is viable under your current employment plans, you should get in touch with your lender right away. If you don’t feel as though you can meet the minimum payment requirements in the foreseeable future, you might be able to extend the terms of your loan thus bringing down the amount of your monthly payment.

Another option that might be available to you is an income-based repayment plan. Basically, the amount you pay each month would be in proportion to the amount you earn. As you earn more, your payment increases, and vice versa. However, there are benefits and risks involved in choosing this option, so be sure to educate yourself on what the potential outcomes could be.

Apply For a Grant

If you are looking for a way to pay off your debt entirely, then you might consider looking to see if you would qualify for any number of student loan forgiveness grants. There are a fair number of grant programs in existence, and for the most part, qualifying for one depends on how you got your loan in the first place.

For instance, if you received a federal loan, then you might be able to apply for the Federal Pell Grant. Other grants are available to those with ties to the US Military or to those who have chosen to take certain career paths that have a service quality to them.

Either way, it doesn’t hurt to take a look to see if your circumstances align with any of the conditions. The best-case scenario could see you completely relieved of the burden of paying back your student loans.