Five Ways to Pay Down Your Student Loan Debt

Many of us invest in our futures by going to college. Getting a degree can open up the doors of opportunity to a good-paying job and a future career. The high cost of education forces us to take out loans to pay for our tuition. Even though it only takes a few short years to rack up this debt, it can take decades to pay off. With good planning and a little research, you can pay down your student loan debt quickly. Below we discuss five ways that you can pay down your student loan debt.

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

There are a variety of programs that can help to reduce student loan debt. The most popular plans include;

  • Public service – Known as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), you may qualify for a reduction of the amount that you owe on your student loans if you hold a government job. Under this program, you must make 120 payments on time consecutively. PSLF may apply if you work in education, public safety, law enforcement, as well as for some non-profit organizations. Teachers may also qualify for student loan debt reductions under the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
  • State programs – Many states may offer student loan debt reduction programs. Requirements will vary for each state. Programs may be based upon the profession you work in, such as education or the medical field. In other cases, these programs may be based upon where you live.
  • Company programs – You may work for a company that offers a student loan assistance program. These are often structured to pay anywhere from $500 to $10,000 annually, based upon the company’s plan. Payments are made directly to your loan provider and are considered taxable income to you. While only 3% of companies in the U.S. offer this type of program, should the payments become non-taxable benefits to an employee, they may become more popular. If you are currently seeking employment, consider looking for companies that offer student loan assistance programs as a benefit.

Consolidate Your Loans

If you have multiple student loans, consolidating them into one may help you to pay the balance down quickly as you are only making one payment. This helps to keep you organized as you are making only one payment each month.

Income-Based Repayment Plans

Setting up an income-based repayment plan (IBR) or a pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) can help you to better manage your finances as your payments are based upon how much money you make. When you are just starting out in your profession, your payments will be lower as your salary is lower. As your pay rises, so will your monthly payment.

If you have a federal loan, there is a forgiveness option built into these plans. You may be required to submit proof of income every year and your payment will be updated if you are making more money. Once you complete this program, the remaining amount that you owe on your student loan may be forgiven. Any amounts forgiven are considered taxable to you.

Refinance Your Student Loans

You can refinance your student loan to get a lower interest rate. While this may help to reduce your monthly payment, if you continue to make the same payments as you have been – you can pay off your loan quicker. When you pay a higher monthly payment than what you are required to pay, that difference goes toward reducing your loan balance. As this drops, what you pay out in interest will fall as well.

Make More Money

Whether or not you are able to take advantage of the programs above, consider picking up a side job to make some extra money to pay down your debt. The larger the payment you are able to make each month, the less interest you will pay over time. This means you can pay your loan off quicker and save yourself some money along the way.

For most of us, student loans are a necessity for higher education. While they can impact our lives financially for years to come, you can find ways to get out from under this debt. With a little planning and attention to paying your loan payments on time, you can pay down your student loan debt quickly.

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