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Paying off student loans can be tough.

After graduating, you’re allotted a brief grace period to find a job before the lenders come knocking. Then you have to be mindful of big-ticket purchases. Should you buy a car? Can you afford to go on that group trip? Will you be able to buy a home? Your student debt may seem like a heavy burden to bear, but  you’ll be able to sprint your way to being debt- free with the right repayment strategy. Check out these 5 tips to help you pay down or pay off your loans faster: 1) Pay More than the Minimum Payment There are terms in your student loan agreement detailing how your payments will be applied. Generally, payments will first be applied to any late payment fees, followed by interest rates, and finally your principal unpaid loan balance. If you want to chip away at your principle, figure out a plan that’ll allow you to pay a little extra towards your balance. 2) Put Together a Lean Budget (and Stick to it) Remember the TAO of creating a lean budget — Track, Analyze, and Optimize.

  • Track — Track your income and expenses on a monthly basis. Use a spreadsheet to review all of your expenses at a glance.
  • Analyze Once you’ve recorded your monthly transactions, review them and identify areas where you can save or eliminate expenses.
  • Optimize Next, optimize your shopping habits for the next month. Take any extra cash and put it towards your next student loan payment.

3) Make Payments While Still in School Most loans accrue interest while you’re in school. When it’s time for repayment, the interest will be added to your principal balance, and your new interest will be calculated and reflected in your updated balance. If you can afford it, begin making mini-payments while in college or during grad school. 4) Ask Your Employer for Help Believe it or not, some employers offer student debt benefits. Similar to dental and health benefits, student loan repayment programs are a unique way for employers to attract top talent. If your current employer does not offer this benefit, do your millennial diligence and present the idea to HR. It can’t hurt to ask! There are also a number of government-aided, not-for-profit employment programs that could help you pay down your loans or have your student loans forgiven. 5) Deduct Interest Payments from your Taxes Lastly, if you earn under $60,000 a year, you can deduct up to $2,500 of student loan interest from what you’ve paid in the last year. All hope isn’t lost! With a smart game plan, a little consistency, and some effort, you’ll be able to pay down and ultimately pay off your student loans in no time.

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