When looking to pay down your debt faster, it’s smart to explore student loan consolidation and refinancing - both of which combine multiple loans into one. Check out these strategies as well as some more unconventional methods to help you reduce your student debt.
There are consolidation options available for federal and private loans. Consolidating federal loans results in a new interest rate that is a weighted average of all your old loan rates, so you have fewer bills to keep track of. Consolidating private loans will result in a new interest rate calculated by the lender.
Refinancing is only available from private lenders, and is essentially taking out a new loan (at a better rate) to pay off existing loans. Note that if you refinance by combining private and federal loans, you lose any benefits of the federal loan (loan forgiveness, etc.) by rolling it into a new private loan.
Maximize tax deductions and try repayment strategies
Come tax time, remember to deduct the interest you’ve paid on qualified student loans, for tuition and other related fees. The American Opportunity Tax Credit also provides credit for qualified higher education expenses.
Though you really should start paying off debts with the highest interest rate, for some people, tackling small balances first is more motivating. This strategy, called debt snowball, is a way to repay debt starting with the smallest balance. Small wins build, like a snowball, until you’re debt free.
Look for loan forgiveness opportunities
A career in public service may make you eligible for the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. Working in law enforcement, public school administration, the government, not-for-profits, the military, and public health may all qualify. In addition, to attract candidates for in-demand jobs such as nurses and teachers, some states offer student loan forgiveness programs. Do some research to see if you qualify.
Choose in-demand jobs
To attract candidates for in-demand jobs, such as nurses and teachers, some state governments offer student loan forgiveness programs.
Tap your employer
Check to see if your company includes reimbursements for student loan repayments as part of their benefits package. If not, ask if your employer would be willing to reimburse your student loan debt in exchange for other professional development funds being offered.
Move somewhere cheaper
Paying rent consumes a major portion of everyone’s budget. Living economically and somewhere affordable can free up money you can put toward student loan repayments.
Track your payments and lender
Use online resources that can help you easily track loan payments and see if you qualify for a deferment. These sites can also help you find loan repayment plans that could lead to significant long-term savings. If you qualify for a loan deferment, continue making interest payments to alleviate the burden once your deferment ends. Your loan may be sold to a new lender on the student loan secondary market. If this happens you’ll receive a notice and will need to create a new account with the new lender. What you owe and your repayment will stay the same.