If you have student loans, you’re not alone. A 2010 report from Statistics Canada reported that 57% of Canadians graduate with loans, and the average balance is approximately $28,000. While it can be stressful paying back student loan debt, Winnipeg residents have a number of options if they can’t afford their student loan payments.
Contact Your Lender
The very first thing you should do if you don’t think you can make your payments is to contact your lender, or whomever you make your payments to each month. They may have their own options for you, including hardship deferments or no-interest plans.
Repayment Assistance Plan
If you have a government student loan issued after August 1, 2001, you may be eligible for the Repayment Assistance Plan. This 2-phase plan allows you to repay your loans based on your income and family size. For the first five years of this plan, your monthly payments are no more than 20% of your household income. One of the benefits of this arrangement is that your payments are applied to the principal first, so you’re not spending all your money on interest. You do have to apply every 6 months if you are enrolled in the plan, to determine if you are still eligible.
For more information about the Repayment Assistance Plan, contact the National Student Loans Service Centre.
If you can’t afford your student loans even after talking to your lenders, or if you have other debts you can’t afford, you may be eligible for a consumer proposal. This is a legally binding arrangement between you and your creditors that lets you settle your debts for less. With a consumer proposal, you make one monthly payment for all your debts and are usually settled within five years. Student loans may be included in a consumer proposal, which are prepared by licensed insolvency trustees. Your trustee can let you know if you qualify and which debts can be included.
If student loans are just one of many debt problems you’re facing, you might want to consider filing for bankruptcy. Student loans are not always eligible for inclusion in a bankruptcy, student loans less than seven years old usually aren’t, but a licensed insolvency trustee can help determine if it’s a viable option for you
Many Canadians have a balance on their student loans. Winnipeg residents who are having trouble paying their loans have plenty of options to help make student loan payments more affordable.