When it comes to repaying student loans, many borrowers can feel overwhelmed. Here are 5 insider tips to help you manage your debt and make student loan repayment a breeze.
Even though repayment usually starts six months after graduation or you drop below half-time enrollment, you can choose to start repaying your loans while still in school to get a head start.
- Avoid Late Fees: Avoid late fees by signing up for auto-pay. As a bonus, many lenders offer a small percentage discount on your interest rate, too.
- Make Extra Payments: Make extra payments on your student loans to get out of debt sooner. But be sure to contact your lender so your additional payment is allocated to where you’d like it to go – such as the loan balance with the highest interest rate.
- Lower Payments: If you need to lower your payments, many federal loans offer income-driven repayment options, where they base payments on your income and family size.
- Repayment Assistance: More and more employers offer student loan repayment assistance, so ask your human resource department about this option.
- Refinance Your Student Loans: Student loan refinancing saves borrowers money by replacing existing education debt with a new, lower-cost loan through a private lender. To qualify, you need credit scores in the high 600s–ideally higher and a steady income. If you fall short on either, you might need a co-signer who qualifies. You can refinance both federal loans and private loans. It doesn’t cost anything to refinance student loans, and you may be able to reduce your monthly payment or pay off your debt faster.
- Ask for Short-Term Relief: As a last resort, if you can’t find a repayment plan that works for you, you can request to temporarily pause or lower your payments through short-term relief – deferment or forbearance. Remember, a normal deferment or forbearance is different from the COVID-19 emergency payment pause. Interest can still add up during deferment or forbearance. Deferment and forbearance also affect loan forgiveness options, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness or IDR plan forgiveness.