It’s graduation season, and the average student loan debt now exceeds $30,000. No wonder an estimated 11% of student loans are in default!
The Department of Education already expanded repayment options like pay-as-you-earn plans (PAYE) and income-based repayment plans (IBR) over the last few years, but many students are still struggling with this financial burden well into their post-college years.
In 2017, lawmakers introduced a new bill that could make a big difference for graduates – and their employers. This bill would extend tax benefits to employers who choose to help their workers with student debt.
Tips for Tackling Student Debt Responsibly
Money to pay back student loans would be great, right? Although the above program could be helpful if passed in the future, paying back the bulk of a student loan is ultimately the borrower’s responsibility. Paying off debt can be challenging, so here are a few tips for tackling student loans responsibly.
1. Pay more than the minimum and/or double up on payments.
Like most other bills, student loans are usually due once a month. Paying a little more than the minimum required amount can help you knock out the debt sooner (use a debt repayment calculator to find out exactly how much), and avoid paying extra interest. If you receive bi-weekly paychecks, you could also set up an additional automatic payment on paydays (even if it’s only a small amount).
2. Find your payoff date and use it as an incentive.
Knowing it will take you 10 years to pay off your student loans is discouraging, but every little bit of extra you pay into the loan will make freedom day a little bit closer. Create a visual update every time you achieve a new payoff date, and you’ll find more incentive to keep taking months and years off the end of it.
3. Use your tax refunds or education credits.
Did you get a tax refund or education credit this year? Instead of spending it, why not use the money to make a large payment on your student loans? The faster you can eliminate a monthly payment, the faster you’ll free up more of your budget year-round, rather than having to wait for your next refund check to have some “fun” money.
4. Take on a side job or apply your annual raise.
If you’re already working full-time, more work might not seem like the ideal situation. That’s why if you take on a side job to repay your student loans faster, choose something fun – and only do it a few hours or days a week. When this money is set aside exclusively for paying your student loans, it can quickly make a dent. Secondly, when you get your annual raise, apply the difference to your loans rather than inflating your lifestyle.
5. Consolidate and refinance – with caution.
Consolidating debt sometimes makes sense, especially if interest rates have dropped significantly. On the other hand, refinancing just to get lower payments while lengthening the duration of your loan – may only mean paying more interest in the long run.
Your personal finance habits will truly make the difference in getting out from under the burden of student loans, once and for all.
Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for moneyning.com