Paying your student loan is no easy feat, but with a bit of persistence, discipline and creativity, the goal of having a zero balance on your next student loan bill can become a reality. Here are some ways to effectively pay down your student debt.
SEE: 10 Realistic Ways To Manage Your Student Debt Load
Choose the right repayment method that fits your particular financial situation. There are a few ways to repay your student loan; these are the standard, extended, graduated, income contingent and income-based repayment.
The standard plan allows the borrower to pay a fixed charge monthly amount until the debt is paid. The borrower has up to 10 years to pay. The payments will be higher but the loan will be paid off quicker, plus the interest on these loans will be low. The extended repayment plan allows borrowers to make fixed or graduated payments for up to 25 years. This type of payment plan is only for students who have accumulated more than $30,000 in Direct Loan debt. Fixed payments under this payment plan are an agreed-upon monthly amount that does not change. Graduated payments begin low and go up every two years. The interest with these plans will be higher because of the extended due date. Its graduated repayment allows for low payments in the beginning, with an increase in monthly payments every two years. The repayment period with this plan is up to 10 years.
Under the income contingent repayment plan, a borrower's monthly payment is calculated based on their adjusted gross income (AGI), family size and total amount of any other Direct Loans. If the borrower is married, their spouse's income is also factored in. According to The Direct Loan Program, under this plan, the monthly amount paid would be 20% of the monthly discretionary income or the amount a borrower would have to pay if they repaid their loan in 12 years multiplied by a variable income percentage number that changes with their annual income.
The cool aspect about this type of repayment plan is that if the borrower hasn't repaid their loan after 25 years, the amount not paid is discharged. The income-based repayment allows monthly payments based on a borrower's income during any period when they have a partial financial hardship. Maximum repayment period under this plan can exceed 10 years, and if the borrower meets certain requirements, they might qualify for cancellation of any outstanding amounts.
SEE: Student Loans: Loan Repayment
A great way to chip down on a student loan is to consolidate it. Consolidating enables borrowers to combine their federal school loans into a new loan with flexible repayment options, lower monthly payments and a lower interest. The Direct Consolidation Loans Information Center provides the details on how to apply for a loan consolidation.
President Obama's Student Loan Initiatives
President Barack Obama announced last year several initiatives to help student borrowers overcome debts and encourage more people to attend an institution of higher learning. Under the president's proposal and the approval of Congress, beginning July 1, 2014, the income-based repayment plan is scheduled to cap a student borrower's monthly payment limit to 10% of discretionary income.
Also, beginning this month, borrowers with split Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) and Direct Loans will be allowed to consolidate these loans and make only one monthly payment. Borrowers who consolidate will receive up to a 0.5% reduction to their interest rate on some of their loans, a 0.25% interest rate reduction on consolidated FFEL loans and an additional 0.25% interest rate reduction on the entire consolidated FFEL and Direct Loan balance.
Get Creative with Your Debt
Another way to overcome student debt quickly is by saving before you graduate. Get a part-time job while you are in school and stash your income in a savings account, that way it'll be ready for you when you start repaying your debt.
Remember to avoid overspending. Don't go crazy signing up for credit cards and overloading them, you'll have to pay them with a high interest and that is the last thing you want to add to your student loan bills. Also, go through items in your home and sell books, clothes, computers, kitchen appliances and anything else you no longer use. You can also put your money in a high interest earnings account and let the interest accrue until your student loan bills start rolling in.
The Bottom Line
The key to overcoming the burden of student debt is to spend responsibly, save accordingly and make sound financial decisions. There are various repayment options and strategies at your disposal, so be sure to consider all possibilities and don't be afraid to get creative. Before you know it, your education will be paid off and you can start seeing a nice return on your college investment.
SEE: 10 Ways To Effectively Minimize Student Debt