No matter how much you pay off, it seems that there is still so much to go. If you're ever going to pay your student loans, you have to make sacrifices. Sometimes, the idea of this is scary.
However, paying off your student loans is not impossible. There are methods out there that you can try out to settle your obligations more quickly. I'm going to give you the quick rundown on different programs and tools you can start using right now to become debt-free sooner than you ever thought possible.
Here are some tips to help you quickly pay your student loans.
1. Get on a budget
A budget isn’t just something you need to have for loan repayment; it’s also a crucial aspect of overall financial health. If you don’t have one, now’s the time to start a monthly budget. Building a budget will allow you to see where you’re spending your money. As a result, you can figure out where you have extra money and where you need to cut back.
Many tools can help you create and maintain a budget, such as a spreadsheet or budgeting journal. All you really need is to be able to designate your spending categories, know how much of your money goes into each category every month, and go from there!
I also recommend using a free budgeting app. These will help you see your progress towards your goal. You won't have to do any of the calculations yourself, and the app will help you create categories to track your spending. Plus, we all have our phones with us at all times, so you'll never be without your handy dandy budgeting tool.
Getting into the habit of sticking to a budget will help you pay your students loans quickly and painlessly.
2. Turn Windfalls Into Extra Payments
Paying more than the minimum each month is the fastest and easiest way to speed up paying off your loan. Before you do this, remember to inform your lender or loan servicer that you want any extra payments you make to go toward the principal and not to future repayments.
Any money that you save from cutting back on your expenses should be used to pay student loans. If you come across windfalls or any unexpected money that isn’t a part of your usual budget (such as your tax refund or annual bonus) use it to decrease your debt.
Remember, even a few dollars more every month can help you settle your loan faster.
3. Look Into Discounts and Tax Deductions
There are various types of tax programs that can help you save some money on your tax obligations. Doing this will give you some extra cash to put directly towards your student loan repayment. Here are some examples of tax breaks you can take advantage of:
This tax deducation program lets you reduce your taxable income up to a specified amount, depending on the interest that you paid on your student loan. Keep in mind that this may come with certain restrictions, including income limits or not being claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer on their tax return.
These are different from tax deductions since the former directly reduces the amount of tax you need to pay while the latter reduces how much of your income is subject to tax. If you’re a student or in graduate school, you may be eligible for tax credits, depending on which state you’re in.
Tuition and fees
If you’re still a student, some states and countries will allow you to claim deductions for your tuition and other school fees.
Some lenders and loan services offer an interest rate discount if you set up autopay. Others may reduce interest after you’ve paid promptly for a specified number of times.
4. Consolidate Your Loans
If you have several loans from different lenders or loan services, consider consolidating into one. Student loan debt consolidation can make your life easier since you only need to remember one due date every month.
Consolidating is a good idea if you have variable interest rates for your loans, because it means you won’t have to pay more when there’s a market downturn. Fixed rates are better if you want to avoid surprises on your monthly repayment.
Make sure that you read the terms carefully and choose a reliable service that has a reputation for being fair efficient. If you’re consolidating private and government loans, do some research first. Some government loans come with certain benefits, such as income-based repayment, that you forfeit when you choose to consolidate.
5. Check Out Loan Forgiveness Programs
There are government loan forgiveness programs that you can take advantage of if you meet certain requirements.
Here are some examples of these requirements:
- You work in a qualifying public service job, and you have made a certain number of on-time payments.
- Generally, you’re still liable for student loans, even after filing for bankruptcy. However, you can file a separate action to get a government student loan discharged. This action is an adversary proceeding, where you request the court to discharge the loan because repayment would cause undue hardship on you or your dependents.
- Your college or university closes while you’re enrolled or soon after your withdrawal.
- In Canada, filing for consumer proposal student loans can get the loan forgiven if you have been out of school for more than seven years.
- If you withdrew from school after receiving a loan from specified loan providers, the school is required to return all or part of the loan money to the loan provider. If your school did not refund as directed, you might qualify for loan forgiveness.
Graduating from college is many people's first real step into adulthood, but student loan debt can adversely impact your new life. With perseverance and hard work, it’s possible to pay off your student loan sooner than you expected. I encourage you to take these suggestions to heart and use them to pay your student loans faster and easier than you thought possible.