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Frequently Asked Questions about Student Loan Repayment
How do you pay off student loans?
Understanding how to repay your student loans efficiently can save you a lot of time and money. Here are a couple of tips that can help you stay on top of your payments:
- Pay off high interest rate loans first: Attacking higher-interest loans first will also help you save money in the long term, since you’ll pay less interest overall.
- Consider consolidation: If you have trouble keeping track of payment deadlines, or feel like you’re unable to manage multiple monthly payments, federal loan consolidation will help you combine your loans into a single payment. If you have both federal and private student loans, refinancing your loans could help you lower your interest rate.
- Make larger payments: If you can afford it, making more than the minimum required payment every month is one of the easiest ways to quickly pay off your principal loan amount. You can either pay a larger sum once a month, or make smaller payments multiple times a month.
- Establish a budget: Tracking your income and expenses by creating a budget is a simple way to figure out where you can cut back. Saving on unnecessary expenses and putting that money towards your loan payments could help you get out out from under your debt sooner.
How do you calculate monthly payments on a student loan?
How much you pay each month on your student loans depends on a variety of factors, including your principal loan balance, interest rate, and the repayment plan you’re on.
Some repayment plans have fixed minimum monthly payments. For instance, under the Standard 10-year repayment plan, your must make monthly payments of at least $50.
Remember, if you can afford it, you can always pay more than the required minimum monthly amount. This will help you pay off your debt faster.
If, on the other hand, you’re having trouble making your monthly payments, consolidating your loans could help you combine multiple payments into a single payment.
How long is the grace period on student loans?
If you have federal student loans, you likely won’t have to start repaying your loans immediately after you graduate. This is called the grace period, and is intended to help you get your finances in order before you taken on the burden of repaying your loans.
Federal loans like Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans all offer borrowers a six-month grace period. It’s important to note that while you don’t have to begin making payments on most federal loans until after graduation unless your loans are subsidized, you’ll begin racking up interest charges as soon as you take them out.
*PLUS loans have no grace period but might be eligible for deferment. If you have a PLUS loan, call your student loan servicer to see how they can help you.
Many private student loan lenders also offer borrowers a six-month grace period. When you take out a private student loan, you’ll typically have several repayment plans to choose from.
It’s important to remember that any changes in your circumstances can affect your grace period. For instance, if you consolidate your loans during your grace period, you will have to forego the rest of your grace period and begin repayment as soon as your new loan is disbursed.
How can I pay off my student loans faster?
There are a number of strategies you can employ to pay off your debt faster. Here are just some of the things you can try:
- Make more than the minimum payment: Paying more than the minimum required amount each month is probably the easiest way to pay off your loans faster. Just make sure that any extra payment goes towards paying off the principal loan balance, and not just the interest.
- Look into a career that offers loan forgiveness: Some jobs, like teaching, health professionals like pharmacists, or public service work, offer student loan forgiveness, as long as borrowers meet certain requirements. If you work for the government or a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, you can qualify for public service loan forgiveness. You can learn more about qualifying for loan forgiveness here.