Pay Off Student Loans Fast With These 12 Strategies
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Paying off student loans is a widespread, relatable struggle that many of us are currently dealing with.
The current national student loan debt in the United States is more than 1.5 trillion dollars. This means that there are tens of millions of Americans that have student loan debt. Additionally, there are many Americans that are struggling with making the minimum payment on their student loans each month which often causes one’s debt load to grow gradually larger and larger. For many, paying off student loans early can feel like an insurmountable challenge that they will never be able to dig their way out of.
Lucky for you, this article is filled with 12 great tips on how to pay off student loans fast. Stop struggling to make the minimum payment every month and put those student loan bills behind you.
1. Student Loan Refinancing
You may be eligible for a much lower interest rate through student loan refinancing and not even know it! You have probably heard of student loan refinancing but do you know what it really means? Basically, student loan refinancing lets you pay off your existing student loan and assume a new student loan with a lower interest rate. This means that you could have a lower monthly payment than your original loan. Additionally, this type of loan is usually unsecured which means you won’t need to put up any collateral in order to get it approved.
The interest rate for student loan refinancing can depend on a variety of factors. Some of these factors are things like the borrowers’ credit score, their credit report, and their debt-to-income ratio. If you have a good credit score, as well as a good debt-to-income ratio, then you would be considered a low-risk borrower. This means that you could be eligible for better interest rates than borrowers who may be deemed as a credit risk.
Refinancing student loan debt to get a lower interest rate from a trusted lender is fast and easy, and it’s a go-to strategy for paying off student loans early. Below are a few of the top student loan refinancing options for you to consider:
- Credible pulls together rates from up to 8 lenders in only two minutes for anyone who wants to refinance federal student loans, private student loans, or Parent PLUS loans. Checking your rate doesn’t impact your credit score. If users can find themselves a cheaper rate on another site, Credible will give them $200 with its best rate guarantee (terms apply).
- Lendkey links up borrowers with trusted community banks and credit unions. These financial institutions occasionally offer cheaper rates than traditional lenders. Loan terms range from 5-20 years, with competitive variable and fixed APR options. There are no origination fees, and LendKey’s customer reviews are a whopping 4.7/5 stars!
2. Maintain the Student Lifestyle
This one may sound difficult at first but it actually is much easier than the alternative – especially when you’re working toward paying off student loans fast.
When you graduate college and get your first post-grad full-time job, you will likely be making more money than any other point in your life. This means that people stop eating ramen and start going out for sushi. Instead of having wine nights in with their friends they can spend upwards of $100 at the bar in one night.
The trick to this is to maintain your student lifestyle in post-college life for as long as possible. Even though you will be making more money, you don’t necessarily have to upgrade your lifestyle. By eating out less, staying in with friends and keeping your costs low, you will be able to pay off your student loans faster than if you had upgraded your lifestyle.
Who cares if you have to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and microwavable mac and cheese for one more year? Check out some other easy ways to save money, to help you on your journey.
3. Get a Side Hustle
We are currently living in the “gig economy,” where almost everyone has taken on a side hustle to help pay the bills or make bigger payments on their student loans. Many people falsely believe that they do not have time for a side hustle, but there are plenty of gigs that you can work with limited free time.
Whether it be walking dogs during your lunch break at work or freelancing on the side. For example, if you are working in marketing, you could spend a few hours a week working on a couple marketing projects for small business owners in your area.
Check out our list of best side hustles to start making extra cash now.
4. Increase Your Monthly Payment
Increasing your monthly payments can help you pay off your student loans much quicker, especially if you’re paying well above the minimum payment each month. If you can’t afford to do this all the time, take advantage of the times during the year where you have extra cash. These times could include if you get a tax refund or unexpected money for your birthday.
5. Start Paying Your Loans Off Before You Graduate
Paying off student loans early while you are still in college may not sound like a lot of fun, but it can be an amazing way to get ahead of your debt.
If you are working while in school, you can put some of that money towards repaying your student loans. No matter how small your payments are, it’s never too early.
Take a look at some of the best jobs for college students.
6. Try Out the Snowball Method
The snowball method may initially sound confusing but it is actually a great way to start paying off student loans fast so you can get out of debt sooner. The first step for the snowball method of getting rid of debt is making a list of your student loans, ranging from the smallest loan to the largest loan.
This is where the “snowballing” aspect comes into play. You will snowball all of your money that you set aside for your loans and put it towards paying off the smallest loan first, while still paying the minimum for all of your other loans. This sounds crazy to some people because they believe that you should try to pay off your largest student loan first because it has the most debt. However, with that method, your smaller debts will also begin to grow and it will take you significantly longer to pay all of your student loans off.
By using the snowball method, you will have fewer loans as you continue to pay off the smallest loans first. This means that ultimately you will have fewer loans and less debt over time than if you had tried to pay off your largest loans first.
7. Make More than One Payment Every Month
This method involves the least amount of hassle and effort on your part if you have the funds. Instead of making one monthly payment, you can sign up to make weekly or bi-weekly payments.
Many people align their bi-weekly payments with their paychecks. This means that every payday some of their money goes straight to paying off their student loan debt.
By paying more each month through these extra payments, you will put yourself in a position to pay off student loans fast.
8. Sign up for Automatic Payments
An automatic payment program can be a helpful solution for people who are worried they will not remember to make a payment each month on time. Adult life right after college can be stressful and hectic as you start a new job and move on to a new section of your life. Put your student loan payments on autopay and put your mind at ease knowing that you won’t forget.
Many student loan programs have autopay options that will also give you a discount if you enroll, so this is something to take advantage of.
9. Negotiate for a Raise or a Higher Salary
When you’re looking for a job right out of college, it is always important to negotiate for a higher salary than what they offer you upfront. Now, it is not realistic to negotiate for an exorbitant amount more than they originally offered you. Make sure that you do your research ahead of time on the average salary for the position.
Having a higher starting salary can obviously help you to pay off student loans fast. Additionally, if you have been working a job for a few years and have not received a raise, it could be time to start looking into negotiating a raise with your boss.
10. Start by Paying Off High-Interest Loans First
Another helpful strategy for paying off your student loans is to begin by paying off the loans with the highest interest first. Even if you make the minimum payment every month on your high-interest student loans, the balance will barely go down because of the interest.
By paying off your higher interest loans first, you will be able to save money in the long run. While paying the monthly minimum on your other loans, make sure that you are putting the majority of your money towards your highest interest loan every month. This means that you will have it paid off much sooner than the rest of your loans and will have an easier time paying off student loans in the long run.
11. Find a Job With Student Loan Repayment Assistance
In addition to offering health and retirement benefits, many companies today are offering student loan repayment assistance. Although it is a fairly new trend among companies, you will see that more and more jobs are adopting this benefit.
Some of these companies that have student loan repayment assistance benefits will give money directly towards your loans as taxable income, while other companies will pay your loan servicer directly.
12. Take Advantage of Tax Deductions
Did you know that you may be eligible for tax deductions because of your student loans? For example, according to the IRS, anyone paying off their student loans could be able to deduct up to $2,500 of the interest paid in the past year on a qualified student loan. But keep in mind that this deduction is only available to anyone making less than $80,000 a year.
Some other qualifications for this student loan tax deductions are that the loan has to have been for a student enrolled, at least half time, in a program leading to a degree. This means that if you got a loan from a relative or through an employer plan to pay for your college that you are not eligible for this tax deduction.
Luckily, many post-grad students are not making more than $80,000 a year as a starting salary and may be able to deduct up to $2,500 from their taxable income. Make sure to consult with a accountant.