Once you graduate college you are going to find yourself with lots of career options to choose from. Unfortunately, though, you are probably going to find yourself with a large amount of student loan debt, as well. In fact, for those who graduated in the year 2016, the average student loan debt that they graduated with exceeded $37,000. With a loan repayment of $300 a month, it would take more than 10 years to pay off this debt. This is why it is so imperative to reduce student loan debt as much as possible and to make sure you acquire a degree in field of study that will lead to a career with a high salary. You will also want to follow these nine simple tips of reducing your overall student loan debt.
1) Consider a Community College
Your first two years of study should be completed at a community or vocational college. This can reduce your student loan debt significantly. Think about it. If you complete two years of study at a community college that costs only $12,000 and then two years at a university at $26,000 a year, your overall student debt will be $76,000. If, however, you complete all four years of study at a university costing you $26,000 a year, your student loan debt will be $104,000. That’s a $28,000 difference!
2) Use Financial Aid as Much as Possible
In the 2014-2015 academic school year, undergrads received an average of about $8,000 in grants. Graduate students received about $8,500 in grants. Over the period of four years, these grants saved these students about $33,000 in student loan debt. This is why you should be taking advantage of grants as much as possible. Fortunately, it is very simple to sign up for grants through the government and you will often find them offered by private entities too.
3) Pay Extra
The sooner you pay off your student loan debt, the lower your overall repayment total will be. Most student loans come with an interest rate, meaning the longer it takes you to pay back the debt, the higher the amount of interest will be. With this in mind, you should try to double up on payments as much as possible, preferably at least three to four times a year. According to Life and Budget Coach, Katrina McGhee, “I began a very aggressive savings fund to pay down my loans. Pre-paying your principle on a loan is a great approach if you are able to make it work for you … Reducing your balance saves you a lot of interest in the long run.”
4) Public Service Loan Forgiveness
When you obtain employment through a government organization, you may be able to qualify for a public service loan forgiveness program. Employment through many not-for-profit organizations will qualify you for this program too. To qualify, you will need to maintain full-time employment as well as make sure you have the right types of loans and payment arrangements. Once a certain number of payments are made on time, the rest of your loans will be forgiven. The founder of TheCollegeInvestor.com, Robert Farrington, says, “this plan enables those in public service … to potentially get forgiveness after 120 qualifying payments.”
5) Use Tax Credits to Pay Your Loans
If you earn a $1,500 tax return credit each year and apply it to your loan repayments for 10 years, this can help reduce your loan by $15,000. Adding this type of extra payment to your loan each year will save you a significant amount of money in interest. Let’s say you get $3,000 back in taxes each year. You can apply $30,000 extra dollars to your loan payments and this can save you even more money in the long run. And once your loans are paid off, you can rest easy knowing your tax credits don’t have to be applied toward a burdening student loan debt.
6) Consolidate Your Loans
One of the simplest ways to reduce your overall student loan debt is to have your loans consolidated. Instead of having five or six loans with varying interest rates, you can combine them all together at a reasonable interest rate. Also, consolidating them means you will only be responsible for making a single payment each month instead of multiple ones to multiple lenders.
7) Don’t Forget about Deferment and Forbearance
If you ever get into a situation in which you are unable to make your student loan repayment, you should contact your lender at once and see if you qualify for any type of forbearance or deferment. A forbearance and deferment program will allow you to skip payments for a predetermined period of time without incurring any type of penalty. You might still be incurring interest on the loans that you have, but at least you won’t be penalized for missing payments while you are unable to make them.
8) Refinance Your Loan
If you find that your loans are too expensive for you to pay, you can always have them refinanced at a more affordable rate. Sure, this may take you longer to pay off, but at least you will be able to afford your payments, which helps to ensure that in the long run your overall student loan debt will be lessened because you won’t go into delinquency.
9) Use Your Home Equity Line of Credit
Do you have equity in your home? If so, you can always use your equity line of credit as a way to pay for your school loans. In fact, you can roll your loans over into your line of credit and take advantage of various tax breaks. Some people have even been known to lower their student loan interest rate from eight percent to three percent by rolling over their loans into their equity line of credit, plus the interest paid became tax deductible. It’s a win-win.