Making monthly student loan payments is about as much fun as going to the dentist. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in August of 2018, over 44 million Americans were sharing the common experience of paying down more than $1.41 trillion of collective student loan debt.
As tuition costs rise and student loan debt balances grow for new graduates, it might feel like paying off that student loan is something you will never get behind you.
The good news is that you are permitted to repay your student loans at a faster rate than the maximum 10-year timeline that federal loans allow. In other words, there is no penalty for repaying them early. Additionally, following a more rapid repayment strategy would also result in lower interest costs than if you conformed to the standard repayment term.
These rapid repayment strategies will help you repay your student loans quickly so that you can move on with life without student loan debt weighing you down.
Prioritize Payoff Concentrations
Many people have multiple student loans — each one with different repayment requirements, interest rates, and terms. As you put together a repayment strategy, you will want to examine all of your student debts closely and, while paying the minimum due on each student loan, you will want to prioritize repaying the debt that will cost the most first.
That means you will pay the minimum balance on all other student loans while paying as much as you can on the one that carries the highest interest rate or least favorable terms. You will especially want to do this if you have any student loans with a variable interest rate. Paying those loans off early, before rates increase, should be a top priority.
If you have high-interest rate loans or massive student loan debt, the savings you stand to gain from this tactic can be substantial. Once you finish paying off one loan, it is time to move on to the next – and then the next. Keep doing this until all student loans are paid off. Paying off each successive loan should be faster as you apply the monthly payment you were making on a paid off debt to the next one.
Consolidate Student Loans
If you have an excellent credit score and high-interest rate loans, consider consolidating your student loans. Not only will that simplify the repayment process, providing you with a single bill to pay each month, but it can also substantially reduce your interest rate.
Take Advantage of Your Job if Possible
Some employers offer student loan assistance programs in their benefits packages. But, taking some jobs may actually qualify you for student loan forgiveness. There may be regional requirements or time of service requirements, but people working in the following professions may be eligible for forgiveness programs:
- Volunteer Organization Workers
- Public Servants
- Federal Agency Workers
Even if you qualify to have only a portion of your student loans repaid by someone else or forgiven, it can mean a massive reduction in your overall debt which can help you repay your outstanding debt balance that much faster.
Change Your Financial Circumstances
Whether you ask for a raise, take a different position, or consider an additional job, if you put all the extra pay towards student loan repayment, you will have that debt paid off in a shorter time frame. Much quicker than if you stick to the minimum payments for the next 10 or 20 years.
Of course, making more money is not the only way to put more towards your student loan payments. You may also choose to cut unnecessary expenses from your budget and invest those savings toward eliminating your student loan debt. Easy starting places include the following:
- Cut the cable. Choose a less expensive streaming service and save up to $100 a month by eliminating cable television from your budget.
- Forego movie rentals. With so many streaming services (some free or inexpensive), not to mention public libraries offering free DVD and Blu-ray rentals in many cities, there’s no reason to spend money on movie rentals night after night.
- Skip the line at the coffee shop. Invest in a quality coffee maker, along with some syrups, foams, and cream for a DIY daily coffee treat that costs much less and tastes even better.
- Downgrade your mobile phone plan. Most families don’t need expensive data plans when so many places offer free Wi-Fi.
- Stop buying new mobile phones every year or two. You and your family can save hundreds of dollars per year, per person. Put those funds to better use by paying down student loans.
The key is to reinvest your savings into paying off your student loans faster. You will be surprised by how quickly the little things add up.
Before you dive too deep into your efforts to pay off your student loans faster, there is one key point to remember. Be cautious of some of the government programs designed to ease the pain of student loan payments. They often provide you with the means to reduce your monthly payments, simplify your record keeping, and only make one payment each month. However, that convenience typically comes at the high cost of extended repayment terms on your loan. Since the goal is to repay your student loan debt faster, not lengthen the amount of time you must continue to pay this debt, these government programs might not be your best choice. Extended repayment periods often mean you will pay more interest over time.
Quickly paying off your student loans frees up your money and your attention for far more enjoyable pursuits. The strategies and tips above will help.