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Repaying your student loans may be easier than you think. With a little organization and planning you can set yourself up to successfully repay your loans. Here are some tips to consider when paying off your student loans.
Gather all your student loan documents (federal and private) and make sure you know the terms of each loan including the payment amounts, payment due dates, who you pay and when you need to start repaying (typically 6 months after you leave school). Look at the payment due dates, see if they are spread out or bunched into one part of the month. To make cash flow easier you might try spreading out the payment dates across the month. Speak with your lender to see if this is possible. Be sure to factor the payments into your monthly budget.
Setting up automatic payments from your personal checking account will help you manage your monthly student loan payments. . You won’t have to worry about making individual payments and you may also have the potential to save money, as some lenders provide a lower interest rate if you sign up for automatic payments.
The interest rates you have on your loans probably are all different. If you have extra funds each month, apply them to the higher interest rate loans first to reduce the total interest you’ll have to pay. Also, since student loans don’t have prepayment penalties, you won’t be penalized if you choose to put extra money toward repaying your loans.
Consolidating all your existing private student loans into one new private consolidation loan or your Federal loans into a new consolidated Federal loan can potentially reduce your monthly payment and help simplify your monthly payments. If consolidation increases the length of time you are repaying the loan, it may also increase the total amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan, so you’ll want to determine if this will work for your situation.
If you’re facing financial hardship and find it difficult to make your private student loan payments, you might be able to apply for forbearance. Forbearance isn’t forgiveness – you’ll ultimately have to pay the loan in full. But this may allow you to postpone your payments and ease your current cash crunch. Be aware that interest will continue to accrue, so in the long run you might end up paying more interest over the life of your loan. Federal loans offer deferment options for certain circumstances such as military service, in addition to several repayment options so check with your loan servicer or the U.S. Department of Education to learn more.
Setting up a plan and paying off your student loans as soon as possible will help you free up valuable cash for life’s other necessities.
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National Center for Education Statistics
Wall Street Journal, “Number of the Week: Class of 2011, Most Indebted Ever”, May 7, 2011.