By Dan from dinks.co, read up on his blog if you want to learn more about his journey through a dinks marriage
The rising cost of college is making it more difficult each year to get a degree without also going into serious debt with student loans. Many students take out loans, thinking that they won’t need to worry about them until after graduation—and by then, they’ll have landed that great job and make plenty of money. However, that doesn’t always happen for one reason or another, and when students graduate with large amounts of debt that they can’t afford to make payments on, they end up feeling anything but lucky.
So how can you get lucky with your loans? It turns out it’s not quite about luck—but there are a few tricks that will make you more successful at handling your student loans. Here are a few common tips now.
One possibility (and one of the luckiest) is having your loans forgiven, cancelled, or discharged—basically meaning that you don’t have to pay them back. This option is available only in a very specific list of situations, including but not limited to the following:
As you can see, while getting your loans forgiven is great, it’s not always done for a great reason—or a situation you’d want to be in. If you do find yourself in those situations, however, it’s good to know that you might be able to have the weight of your student loan debt removed.
If you find yourself making a lot less than expected after graduation—or if you’re in a career field that starts off with lower pay but has big earning potential—then an income-based repayment plan could help as well. Designed for federal student loans, the income-based plans are exactly what they sound like. They’re geared to be a percentage of your disposable income, and as your salary grows, your payment will grow along with it, offering you a lot easier start after graduation.
While payments get set up as monthly events, what student loan lenders and servicers don’t tell you is that making payments every two weeks instead of once a month is an easy way to not only pay less interest, but it will also pay off your loan faster. All you need to do is split your monthly payment in half, and pay that amount every other week.
Here’s how it works. If your payments are $200 per month, that means if you stick to your schedule you’ll pay $2400 per year. On a biweekly schedule, you’re paying $100 every two weeks. That means you’ll end up making 26 payments during the year—for a total of $2600—and getting credit for an extra payment without making too much of a dent in your finances. This works for credit card debt among others, so it’s a helpful method to say the least.
Student loan refinancing offers a way to restructure your loans; you have the chance to obtain one lower interest rate, decrease your monthly payment, and manage only one loan moving forward. There are multiple refinancing options available with a long list of lenders. If you’re financially strapped by payments too big for your budget, a refinance can help you lower your monthly payment and stretch out your repayment term. Conversely, if you’re in good shape financially, you could also shorten your repayment term – expediting repayment with larger monthly payments.
Being able to refinance is largely dependent on your creditworthiness and what you’ll be securing the loan with, if anything. If you own your home, for instance, you may qualify for a home equity line of credit that has a lower interest rate than your loans. This isn’t always an option however. Most student loan refinancing applicants must rely on their credit history and income as the two main factors of approval.
If you have federal student loans, you have the additional option of federal loan consolidation. With a consolidation plan, all of your existing loans are rolled into one. That means you’ll only need to make one payment, and all of your debt will be under one interest rate as well.
Doing this can lower your interest rate and monthly payment, making them easier to deal with. A consolidation also, however, extends your repayment term, which means you’ll pay more overall. If you need the help up front, however, you might want to give yourself more time to pay—and a federal consolidation can do that.
If you graduated with a large student loan debt, you’re not alone—and if you’re looking for options to help you manage that debt, you really are in luck. There are several popular ways to help you deal with your student loans; the options above are not an all-inclusive list. Take the time to investigate each option and find out if one will work for your situation–you might just get lucky.
Dan is a Nashville local in his early 30s. He graduated from a large university with a degree in Finance, has since obtained his MBA and currently works at an insurance company in Nashville. Dan hopes to achieve financial independence so that he can help people around the world. Dan has travelled to struggling communities around the United States as well as third-world countries on missions to help those struggling with personal finance. Dan Blogs at Dinks.co along with his wife June.
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