Tips for Helping Pay Student Loans
By Chelsea Tafelski, UF/IFAS Intern, University of Florida
Reviewed by Michael Gutter, PhD, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, University of Florida
Earning a college education is stressful enough without mentioning the expenses that come with it. School loans are a dreaded topic, but remember why you started school; you’re investing in a better future.
Whether you are graduating within the next year and are concerned about paying off your debt or you are an incoming freshman and paying back loans is on the back burner for now, here are some tips for how to pay back student loans.
What you can do while in school:
- Pay attention to how you are using your money. Is it a need or a want? Track your spending on paper.
- Start paying down interest while in school so it does not accumulate and get added to the principal, whereby increasing your indebtedness.
- Earn extra money from a part time job while you’re still in school.
- Examples include:
- Federal Work Study, which provides part time jobs for students with financial need as determined by the FAFSA.
- AmeriCorps, a federal program that pays you a stipend to serve your community and also pays towards your loans, and a nice perk for your resume. (Note: You do not have to be a student to serve in AmeriCorps!). http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/segal-americorps-education-award
What you can do upon graduation:
- Develop a budget. Make sure that paying off your loans is a priority when paying monthly bills.
- Pay off variable private loans first because fluctuating interest rates can end up costing you more (generally federal loans have lower interest rates than private).
- Make larger payments to reduce the principal. Always try to send more than the minimum payment to help pay the loan off faster; every little bit can help (send part of your tax return or other extra income).
- Consider paying biweekly because it will equate to an extra payment each year, which will lower the amount of interest that accrues, saving you years of repayment!
- Choose the Federal-Student-Loan Repayment plan that’s right for you (repayment types: standard, extended, graduated, income-contingent, income-based, and income-sensitive). Counselors at your institution and your loan servicer are available to help you.
- Consider Consolidation. Consolidation puts all of your loans into a single loan with a single payment and determines your “new” interest rate by averaging all of your loans. It extends the repayment period, and lowers payments, but just make sure that your interest rate does not end up being higher because of consolidation.
- Look into automatic payments. Some loans reduce interest rates if you grant permission to have your payment automatically taken from your bank account.
- A (temporary) second job can help you pay down loans faster.
- It never hurts to ask if your place of work has a program that helps with student debt.
- If it’s going to take you 10 or more years to pay off your loans and you work within one of the qualified public service jobs, look into Public Service Loan Forgiveness at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service
- Federal loans require exit counseling. Your institution should help make you aware of this when the time comes.
- Check the National Student Loan Data System to understand how your debt is structured and how much you owe.
- Find out the rules and regulations of all of your loans. Some loans may have a penalty for paying them off early.
- Repayment calculators and loan servicer tools are available online.
- Above all, watch out! Interest grows substantially when taking longer to pay off loans!
Some of these things may seem obvious but hopefully you picked up tips about different ways you can tackle paying off your student loans.
Bankrate. The 5 Fastest Ways to Repay Your College Loans | Bankrate.com. (2015). Retrieved July 22, 2015, from http://www.bankrate.com/finance/college-finance/repay-college-loans-fast-6.aspx
Favreau, M. (2015). 15 Ways to Pay Back Student Loans Faster. Retrieved July 22, 2015, from http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-pay-back-student-loans-faster
FinAid. Calculators | Loan Calculator. (2015). Retrieved August 5, 2015, from http://www.finaid.org/calculators/loanpayments.phtml
Gibbons, V. (2015). How to Pay Off Student Loans. Retrieved July 22, 2015, from http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/money/how-to-pay-off-student-loans
Gobel, R. (2008, November 19). Student Loans: Paying Off Your Debt Faster | Investopedia. Retrieved July 22, 2015, from http://www.investopedia.com/university/student-loans/student-loans6.asp
U.S. Department of Education. Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program. (2015). Retrieved August 5, 2015, from http://www2.ed.gov/programs/fws/index.html
U.S. Department of Education. If you work full-time in a public service job, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. (2015). Retrieved July 22, 2015, from https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service
U.S. Department of Education. Repayment Estimator. (2015). Retrieved August 5, 2015, from https://studentloans.gov/myDirectLoan/mobile/repayment/repaymentEstimator.action
U.S. Department of Education. Work-Study Jobs | Federal Student Aid. (2015). Retrieved August 5, 2015, from https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/work-study
UF/IFAS Photo by Amy Stuart