High student loan debt is an issue facing many students today. With low entry level salaries it can be daunting trying to figure out how to make payments. Here are some tips to help you attack that debt as efficiently as possible.
1 Create a budget and stick to it: Figure out what percentage of your monthly income goes to making the minimum payment, and then set a budget and stick to it, forgoing eating out can easily save thousands in the long run.
2 Change the details of your payment: By scheduling your payment withdrawals early in the month or better yet bi monthly you can greatly reduce the amount of interest you pay and the time remaining on the loan.
3 Pay extra towards the highest interest rate loan: If you can stow away any extra money towards your loans it is always best to attack the highest interest rate first then the next highest and so on. This gives you the greatest reduction in interest paid overall and is called the avalanche method. An alternative strategy is the snowball method which consists of paying down the smallest one first and then using the original payment from that to pay down the next smallest and so on. A snowball approach can be very satisfying but does not provide quite as much savings as the avalanche method.
4 Consider ways to increase earnings: In some cases the key to paying off your student loans is simply making more money. Consider getting a second income source, or a higher paying job. Some ideas for second income sources include event work, landscaping and working at a restaurant.
5 Refinancing: Depending on your interest rate refinancing can offer you significant savings over the life of your loan. It is usually worthwhile to refinance private loans for better interest rate, however be careful when deciding to refinance your federal loans as you lose access to federal repayment plans.
6 Set up Autopay: Most student loan carriers will give you a small interest rate reduction if you enroll in Autopay. Autopay also helps make sure you never miss a payment so you can avoid late fees and keep your credit score in tact.
7 Take advantage of federal repayment options: Federal loans have a variety of repayment options, including income based repayment. For those with both private and federal loans minimizing your federal loan payment will enable you to pay extra towards the higher interest private loans.
8 Check if you qualify for loan forgiveness: Certain professions will qualify for loan forgiveness after a period of payments, regardless of remaining balance. If you qualify for loan forgiveness it is smart to make the minimum payment and save up for the eventual tax consequences when the loan is forgiven.* Student debt that is forgiven counts as income for the year for tax purposes.
9 Start making payments as early as possible: Most Federal and Private loans will defer payment for 6 months or more after you graduate, but there is no reason not to start paying sooner if you are able. During this time interest is compounding and you can greatly reduce the long term cost of the loan by starting payments immediately after graduation or even during school.
10 Avoid student loan debt in the first place: The best way to deal with student loan debt is to avoid it in the first place. Apply for scholarships online and locally in addition to the ones your school offers. Also consider the value your degree brings, is it worth the additional cost over a cheaper state school. Taking your first two years of classes at a community college and then transferring to a four year university can greatly reduce the cost of college and offer students an opportunity to improve their grades before applying to four year schools.