After many years of late-night library sessions and red cup parties, you will hopefully have made it to graduation, but after basking in the glory, the inevitable is waiting.
That’s right; you will need to think about how you will pay off your student loans.
If you borrowed money to pay for school, you will want to know the best way to pay off your student loans.
The realistic answer is that there’s no magic trick to vanish your debt, but there are ways to make paying back education debt a smooth process.
Explore our top tips below to swap any fear for confidence.
Understand your debt
Before anything else, you should know the exact figure you owe. If you haven’t already figured out how much you owe, then we strongly suggest taking the time to do so.
You should figure out the following:
- How much you owe in total
- Which student loan services you owe money to and the exact figures
- Which loans are federal and which are private
- The minimum monthly payments
- The interest rates
When you have established your debt, you can move onto the next step, which is choosing the best repayment plan for you.
Explore the student loan repayment options
There are different student loan repayment plans to entertain the type of loans you owe, how much you can realistically afford to pay, and your money goals.
Income-driven repayment plans are the best way to pay off federal student loans. These choices calculate your monthly payment based on your income and household size and give you more time to repay your loans compared to standard 10-year repayment plans.
Alternatively, if you wish to repay your loans at a faster rate, you might want to select a plan that has the shortest term. If you opt for this plan, then you should expect a higher monthly payment.
The best way to determine what loan repayment option is best for your circumstances is by using a loan repayment calculator, which can be found online.
Consolidating or Refinancing Student Loans
Debt consolidation (or in your case, student loan consolidation) can be scary to some, but it doesn’t have to be. It allows you to combine multiple loans at an interest rate that reflects the average rate paid across various loans.
It is the best way to merge multiple loans into one and is a useful way to declutter your mind.
Refinancing works differently. If you go down this avenue, you are taking out a new loan to pay off previous loans, which will still end up with one monthly payment.
However, if you decide to refinance private student loans, you should note that this requires a good credit score. If you don’t have good credit, you might need to include a cosigner in qualifying for refinancing.
We would suggest being extra cautious when looking through your options as there has been a rise in student loan scams, which can worsen your situation.
Pay your loans straight away
Late payments can increase stress and hurt your credit score. Therefore, you should schedule your loan payments to be deducted from your account automatically each month.
If you are vigilant with your payments, then you could also score some interest rate savings, which will ultimately make a difference in how quickly you pay off your loans.
Pay more if you can
The main reason that is prolonging your student loan repayments is choosing to pay the minimum due, even when you are able to pay more.
Of course, there is no one size fits all when it comes to financial circumstances, but if there is a way of paying more you should always try to do so. If you can pay extra, we would suggest targeting one loan at a time.
Chip in when you can
Another easy way to help is by using ‘found money,’ which is money that isn’t budgeted for in your monthly income. You can find this money in:
- Tax refunds
- Annual salary bonuses
- Income earned from a side job
- Cash gifts from birthdays or holidays
You might want to put this money aside for a rainy day, but the sooner you repay your student loans, the more sunny days you encounter. Inheriting money from relatives or receiving a settlement as part of a lawsuit are other ways to contribute.
Switching from monthly to biweekly payments is an effective way to quicken the process and can result in making one extra loan payment per year.
You’ll need to contact your loan servicer to find out whether biweekly payments are an option, but if not, you can make additional payments at any time through your online account access.
Breathe. Don’t forget to breathe.
It’s probably not the tip you expected to get from us, but it is essential to remain calm and focus on your breathing. It can be stressful, but you shouldn’t allow it to consume your health.
Student debt reached an all-time high of 1.41 trillion in 2019, so remember you are not alone, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel – and that light is a fully repaid student loan.
Overall, the most effective way of tackling your student loans is to be proactive and form a plan or several plans. There are many ways to manage your debt effectively, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
By Calvin Green.