November 5, 2009 | Diane Johnson | 1 Comment If you've done the time and earned your degree but you still don't have a job; there's a problem. Student loans will arrive whether you're ready or not. If you graduated in May of 2009 the six month grace period is almost over and you will soon have to start making monthly payments. One tactic that you can try is by going to the financial aid office and speaking with a counselor about deferment or forbearance. This isn't guaranteed, but it may allow you to postpone your payment if you meet specific circumstances. Even though there might be some consequences, none will be as harmful to you as late payments or defaulting. A deferment is better because federal loans take into consideration if you're in the military, graduate school, or facing economic difficulty. If you're trying to qualify for a deferment you must earn less than $16,245 a year in the continental U.S. Plus you are eligible for public assistance like food stamps. Depending on if your deferment is based on economic hardship it's granted one year at a time but unemployment deferments are granted in six-month increments. But students can reapply for these for a total of three years each. Deferment is a great option if you can't afford the payments. But in case you don't qualify you might be able to postpone payments if you're having health problems. This type of postponement is called a forbearance. Although in order to qualify you most likely will need to be interviewed in order to determine if forbearance is the best solution. Even though there are these options out there if you're struggling and worried about how you're going to make your student payments remember that delaying it isn't necessarily the best thing. It's important to realize that even though you defer these payments the interest is still accruing on the loan whether you're making payments or not. So the amount will be larger when you finally start making payments. But if you do get a deferment or forbearance it's a good idea to pay the interest costs in order to minimize the financial impact later on. If you don't qualify or choose not to get a deferment or forbearance then try picking a payment plan that reduces your monthly payment. By reducing the payments it will take longer to pay off the loan but it may be worth it. Another option is the Income-Based Repayment Program for federal loans. The program caps monthly payments at 15 percent of your earnings. Then if the debt isn't paid off in 25 years it is forgiven. To be eligible for this program officials weigh your debt level against your income. Even though it's a difficult time and many grads are facing student loan payments with no job, there is hope. Just remember that you want to keep your credit report as squeaky clean as possible. If that means you need a deferment or forbearance then get it but don't ignore the payments. Defaulting on your loan will cause serious problems today and throughout your life.