How to Conquer Student Loans with Extra Payments (Infographic)

Infographic titled how to conquer student loans with extra payments

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Many student loans have a standard 10-year repayment plan, where borrowers make a set monthly payment that is applied to interest and principal to pay the loan in full at the end of 10 years. If you are able to make extra payments, though, you may be able cut your repayment period in half and save money along the way.

The following examples are based on average debt from the College Board Trends in Student Aid 2017 report for three types of degrees, and assuming loans with a 10-year repayment term, a 6% interest rate and extra payments beginning with the first payment.

Master’s Degree

With debt totaling $41,300 to obtain a master’s degree, a borrower who pays an extra $100 each month will save approximately $3,329 on interest payments and repay the debt in seven years and nine months.

A borrower who pays an extra $200 each month on the same $41,300 will save about $5,341 on interest and pay off the loans in six years and four months.

Bachelor’s Degree

The average total debt to obtain a bachelor’s degree is $28,400. An extra $100 payment each month will save the borrower approximately $2,994 in interest and repay the loan amount in seven years.

Paying an extra $200 a month on the $28,400 debt will save a borrower about $4,530 in interest and pay off the loan amount in five years and five months.

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree holder with the average debt of $13,000 making an extra $100 payment per month will save about $2,168 in interest and pay the debt off in five years and three months.

Making an extra $200 payment each month on that $13,000 will save approximately $2,876 in interest and pay off the debt in three years and six months.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Grand Prize Winners Announced in College Funding Forecaster Giveaway

Eighteen new Iowa high school graduates and three younger students recently received monetary awards to help cover educational expenses after they or their families completed a free online tool to estimate the total cost of a four-year undergraduate degree.

Iowa high school students, and their parents or guardians, were able to enter their information for the drawings after completing the College Funding Forecaster between March 5 and May 11, 2018. This free consumer education tool provided by Iowa Student Loan® uses information from students’ freshman year financial aid award packets, as well as outside scholarships and grants and family savings and earnings, to project estimated costs, funding gaps and potential student loan debt over four years.

“We really feel this tool is vital to help families plan for a complete undergraduate education,” said Christine Hensley, chair of the Iowa Student Loan board of directors. “We use the Giveaway contest to draw attention and expose families to the tool’s features, which help them estimate total costs over four years as part of an overall plan to minimize student loan debt. We are pleased to see so many families entering after going through the module this year.”

More than 900 qualifying entries were received from all over the state, representing nearly 280 Iowa high schools.

Sixteen 2018 Iowa high school graduates met the requirements to each claim an award of $250 for education expenses after having their names randomly chosen in weekly drawings. They are:

Student Name High School
Everett Willson Burlington High School
Jordan Larson Gehlen Catholic High School
Sadie Brockett Gladbrook-Reinbeck High School
Nathan Butler Highland High School
Madison Sommers Indianola High School
Rachel Strang Iowa City High School
Aaron Howe MOC-Floyd Valley High School
Owen Meyer North Cedar High School
Erin Goraczkowski North Union High School
Erech Hazen Norwalk High School
Abby Crowner Notre Dame High School
Andraya Sowers Pleasantville High School
Reece Suter Rock Valley High School
Nicholas Resch Spirit Lake High School
Madeline Moen Vinton-Shellsburg High School
Renee Kerr Wilton High School

Three younger students also fulfilled the requirements to claim one of the weekly drawing awards.

Student Name High School
Bethany Kallio (high school class of 2021) Ballard High School
Grace Reekers (high school class of 2021) Belle Plaine High School
Dahlyn Ott (high school class of 2019) South Winneshiek High School

In addition, two high school seniors’ names were randomly drawn by an independent third party to each receive a $1,500 scholarship award to the colleges they will attend this fall.

Student Name High School
Marissa Tunning Carroll High School
Drake Beller Sioux City North High School

The College Funding Forecaster is available online at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Forecaster. The tool allows families to customize both expenses and available funding to adjust results for changes in students’ situations over the four years. The results show yearly and total estimated costs of attendance, available funding and projected funding gaps. The tool also provides informational tips on how to reduce costs and potential debt.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Before Applying for a Student Loan

So, awarded financial aid isn’t enough to cover the full cost of attendance and you know you or your student will need additional student loans to pay for college. Before filling out loan applications, consider future repayment for any loans. Here’s what you need to know.

Federal student loans are limited.

Undergraduate students can take out only so much in federal student loans each year. If additional student loans above that limit are required, you may need to consider private student loans or parent loans.

Undergraduates need adult assistance.

Students need to have a creditworthy cosigner for any private student loans, unless they can meet underwriting criteria on their own. If parents are willing to consider a federal Parent PLUS Loan, the parents will need to borrow that money and be responsible for paying it back themselves.

The debt will need to be repaid.

Student loans are not usually dischargeable for bankruptcy or other financial hardship. When you think about a future repayment amount, remember:

  • The repayment amount will be more than the original loan amount. Student loans accrue interest on a daily basis. At certain times, unpaid accrued interest may be capitalized, or added to the principal balance, and begin accruing interest as well.
  • Payments may come from a limited income. Carefully consider how much a graduate with the same major can realistically expect to make in an entry-level position. Add anticipated student loan payments for all the undergraduate years, including any federal loans in the financial aid package, to anticipated expenses for a realistic budget based on a starting salary. If all your expenses can’t be covered with a realistic starting salary, student loan debt may need to be reconsidered.

Interest and other payments can be made during college.

Most lenders allow early or extra payments on student loans at any time without penalty. In addition, paying interest as it accrues during school can reduce the amount of interest that will need to be repaid after graduation.

Private student loans vary.

Every lender has its own underwriting criteria, qualification requirements, loan terms and repayment schedules. Before you sign for a loan, research your options. Consider:

  • Variable vs. fixed interest rates. A variable rate may go up or down according to market conditions, while a fixed rate remains the same throughout the loan term. A low variable rate is often appealing, but remember that it may change drastically over the loan term.
  • Actual interest rate. Many lenders offer different rates based on the applicants’ and cosigners’ credit. If you are unable to determine your rate upfront, consider the highest rates.
  • Repayment assistance and benefits. Some lenders or loan servicers offer assistance if a borrower is unable to make required monthly payments. Some loans also offer special benefits, such as a reduced interest rate for making automatic electronic payments. Consider these features carefully.
  • Managing repayment. Will additional loans be needed for future years? Should all loans be obtained from a single or limited number of lenders to make repayment easier? Will consolidating multiple loans later be important, and does the lender offer that option?

College choices matter.

If you find that you or your student cannot afford to take on enough debt to pay the full cost of attendance, a new plan might be essential. Some options students have include:

  • Earning more. Increase the ability to pay college costs as they occur by earning more income during school terms and on breaks.
  • Reducing expenses. The full cost of attendance may include expenses that can be cut. Can living off campus without a meal plan save money? Are the book and fees and transportation costs realistic for you or your student?
  • Asking for help. Are relatives willing to help pay for college? Are additional scholarships, either through the school or outside entities, available?
  • Attending a less-expensive school. If the cost of attendance is still not affordable without taking on unmanageable debt, you may need to consider attending a less-expensive school, at least for a year or two.

Visit Student Loan Game Plan for more information and tips.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Maximizing Summer Earnings for College

MaximizingSummerEarnings-College

About this time of year, panic tends to set in for new high school graduates looking at their upcoming college costs. If you’re planning to work this summer to offset some of your college expenses, consider these tips.

1. Know How Earnings Affect Your Financial Aid

Although your financial aid has already been determined for the upcoming year, your annual income can affect future aid.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, provides an income protection allowance — the amount you can earn during a calendar year before your financial aid package is affected. For the 2015–2016 year, this amount was $6,400.

You shouldn’t necessarily try to limit your annual income to less than the income protection allowance, however. The income tax you pay on your earnings is also taken into account, and the type of aid you receive makes a difference. Offsetting student loans with income is beneficial, while earning enough to reduce need-based grants isn’t so great.

If you have questions about how your earnings will affect your future aid, talk with a financial aid officer.

2. Make a Plan for Your Earnings

The amount you need to save from each summer paycheck is determined by your goals. Are you planning to offset specific expenses, such as clothing, books or entertainment, for the school year? Are you planning to earn enough to make interest payments on student loans?

Use your goals to determine a percentage of each paycheck to put into savings. Don’t forget that you may need to use part of each paycheck to cover current expenses, such as work clothes, gas and car insurance, and that you will have taxes and other deductions removed from each check. You may also want to plan on spending a little each month on summer entertainment as well.

3. Simplify Your Saving

It’s often tempting to use cash in hand, and sometimes students find they’ve spent the money they intended to save without really thinking about it. Avoid the cash crunch by:

  • Depositing your pay right away. If you have the option to have your check direct-deposited into a checking account, take advantage of it. If not, or if you are paid in cash, deposit it directly after you receive it to avoid unnecessary spending.
  • Automating your savings. Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account that corresponds with your pay date. For example, if you are paid by direct deposit every other Friday morning, have an amount equal to the percent of your check you want to save automatically transferred to your savings account on those Friday afternoons. Time the transfer as close to the deposit as you can without risking overdrawing your checking account.

4. Stick to Your Goals

Once school starts in the fall, remember what you worked so hard for over the summer. If you intended to use your summer earnings for books, don’t let the desire for new clothes or evenings out distract you from your goal. If you haven’t already considered it, think about a part-time job during the school year to pay for other items you want or need.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Contacting a Student Loan Servicer (Infographic)

ContactStudentLoanServicer-inforgraphicDownload this infographic as a PDF.

Once you know who your student loan servicer is, you need to know your servicer is there to help you successfully repay your loans at no additional cost. It’s important contact your student loan servicer for any of the reasons listed below.

1. Your contact information has changed. If you have a new mailing address, phone number or email, or if your name other demographic information has changed, you need to advise your loan servicer. Remember that you are responsible for repaying your student loan debt, even if you don’t receive bills because your servicer does not have your current contact information.

2. You want to make extra or reduced payments. Your ability to pay may change according to your circumstances. Work with your servicer to make sure extra payments are achieving your goal or that you don’t face unnecessary penalties for reduced payments.

3. You want to apply your payments in a specific way. If you have several loans with the same servicer, you may want payments to apply more heavily to certain loans within your account, such as those with higher interest rates. Find out your servicer’s policy for payment application across loans and how to direct payments differently.

4. You don’t understand your billing statement or the way previous payments were applied. If you don’t understand how your payments are being applied to your account, any fees you are charged or have other billing questions, ask your servicer for an explanation as soon as possible. This will help you better understand the most beneficial way to make future payments.

5. You have fallen behind on your payments. Student loan servicers may report late payments to the national consumer reporting agencies, and nonpayment will eventually lead to default. If you are not able to make your full monthly payment, work with your servicer to determine your options and see if you can avoid negative credit reporting or default.

6. You want to understand borrower benefits. You may be eligible for benefits, such as a reduced interest rate for making automatic electronic payments. Talk to your servicer about potential benefits as soon as possible to learn how to maintain eligibility.

7. You want to consolidate your student loans. Your ability to consolidate your loans depends on your servicer and the types of loans you have. You cannot include private student loans in a federal student loan consolidation under federal loan programs, although private lenders may allow you to combine both types of loans in one consolidation. Some private servicers offer consolidation while others don’t. If you’re considering consolidation, work with your servicers to determine your best options. If you are considering consolidating federal loans into a private loan consolidation, be sure you understand what important federal loan benefits you may lose before applying.

8. You want to align your payment dates. If you have several different loans or more than one servicer, your payment due dates may be different as well. If it’s easier for you to manage a single due date, call your servicers for information.

9. You are close to paying your loans in full. Because student loans accrue interest every day, your principal balance does not equal a payoff amount. If you want to pay your loans in full, contact your servicer for an accurate payoff amount and date to avoid any surprises.

10. You have any additional questions. Each borrower’s circumstances are unique, and you may not be able to find accurate, updated information from your specific servicer online. If you have any questions, call your servicer directly. Your servicer is invested in your ability to successfully repay your loan and wants to help you.

By: Iowa Student Loan

How Working Can Help Your College Student

Wking-Help-College-Student

The financial, networking and training benefits of working while in college can seem pretty obvious. Students earn cash that can be used to offset loans, pay college costs and fund other expenses. They learn to value money and to budget. They can connect with professionals who may be able to help them locate and succeed in future jobs. They learn how to navigate the workplace, gain skills they can use in their careers and put classroom lessons into practical use.

What may not be so obvious is how working part-time during the academic year can also boost a student’s grades. Although a student’s first job is performing well in school, working for pay a few hours a week may help the student achieve more academically.

The most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) backs up earlier research performed by Lauren Dundes and Jeff Marx of McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. Dundes’ 2006 study found that the academic performance of students who work 10–19 hours a week was better than all other students’ performance, including those who worked more or less and those who didn’t work at all.

According to 2012 NCES data:

  • The average GPA for all full-time college students is 2.99.
  • Those who worked 10–19 hours per week earned an average GPA of 3.07.
  • Those who worked 1–9 hours per week earned an average GPA of 3.10.
  • Those who did not work earned an average GPA of 2.98.

GPA Per Hours Worked

Estimated Hours Worked Per Week

Average GPA

0–40+ (overall) 2.988
0 2.981
1–9 3.105
10–19 3.065
20–29 2.972
30–39 2.895
40+ 2.971
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2011–2012 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS: 12)

Why Working Works

The reasons for the grade boost may vary widely by student, job and college, but researchers often conclude that the busier schedule forces students to better manage their available time.

Hanna, a graduate of an Iowa high school now attending Kansas State University, agrees. “Having the extra responsibility of a part-time job forces me to study more efficiently,” she said. “I know I won’t have the time to keep procrastinating.”

Another possible reason for the higher average GPA may be that students who work to pay for part of their education expenses are more invested in the outcome. Students who are likely to succeed because of their own goals and motivation may also be more likely to look for and obtain part-time work.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Know Your Student Loan Servicer

KnowYourStudLnServicer

As you begin your life after college, you likely have several different responsibilities, from a new job to managing your own insurance and other activities. One important task is to get to know the servicer or servicers for your student loans.

What Is a Student Loan Servicer?

Your student loan servicer is the organization that handles customer service, including collecting and tracking your payments, for the loan. Depending on the number and type of your student loans, you may have one servicer or several.

Why Do I Need to Know Who My Servicer Is?

You need to be aware of your servicer for several reasons.

  1. You will soon need to start repaying your student loans, and you need to know where and when to send payment. You may also want to set up features, such as an online account and automatic withdrawals, that will help you manage your student loan payments.
  2. Your servicer can help you understand and choose from available payment plans. Most borrowers enter repayment under a standard payment plan that pays off the loan in equivalent monthly payments over the full term of the loan, but you may be able to choose a different plan that works better for your current situation. If you are entering the workforce at less than what you expected to earn, you may be able to make lower payments based on your income or according to a preset formula at first. If, on the other hand, you have the chance to make higher payments now before you have additional family, car and housing expenses, work with your servicer to determine the best way to pay down your debt.
  3. Your servicer may offer assistance if needed. If you don’t have or lose your income or you face another difficulty that makes student loan repayment challenging, you may be eligible to postpone payment. You will need to work with your servicer to understand your options and choose the one that works for you. Be aware that interest continues to accrue on student loans during repayment, and unpaid interest may capitalize, or be added to your principal balance, at the end of assistance. In certain cases, you may be eligible to have some or all your student loan debt forgiven, and your servicer can help with that as well.

How Do I Locate My Servicer?

Your servicer may be the entity that provided your loan or it may be a separate entity that acts on behalf of the current owner of the loan.

  1. Determine if you have federal student loans. Often called Stafford or Direct loans, these loans are provided by the federal government and were likely included in the financial aid package you received from the college you attended.
  2. Use your FSA ID to log in to the National Student Loan Data System. If you filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid after May 2015, you probably created an FSA ID then. If it’s been some time since you filed a FAFSA, you may need to visit fsaid.ed.gov to create an ID. Then go to nslds.ed.gov to log in and view your federal loan information, including the servicer.
  3. If you have private student loans you obtained from a bank, credit union or other lender to pay remaining college costs after your financial aid, refer to the information your lender provided when you took out the loan and progressed through school. As the due date for your first payment approaches, you will likely receive communications from the lender or servicer about how to make your payment.

If you can’t locate a private student loan servicer, contact the entity that lent you the money or your financial aid office. You may also be able to see your lender or servicer name on your credit report (remember to access a free report at annualcreditreport.com).

By: Iowa Student Loan

Everything You Need to Know Before Refinancing Your Student Loans

worried man and woman staring at a bill, text reads everything you need to know before refinancing your student loans

Student loans can be stressful, especially if you have a mix of federal and private loans as well as multiple lenders or loan servicers you make payments to each month. Adding to the challenge is that each loan can have a different interest rate and a different type of rate, like variable rates that change every month or quarter in comparison to fixed rates that don’t change. That’s a lot of information to keep track of month after month.

By now you’ve probably heard about student loan refinancing, but is it the right option for you?

What is student loan refinancing? How does it work?

When you refinance your student loans, you receive a new private loan with a new interest rate and a new repayment term to pay off your existing student loans. This is a great option for people who have private and federal student loans, but you can also refinance if you have just one or the other. Refinancing allows you to gather all or some of these loans into one new loan, often at a lower interest rate that will save you money or a longer repayment term that will lower your payment.

pad of paper, text reads student loan refinancing

What is the difference between refinancing and consolidation?

These two words are frequently used interchangeably but refinancing and consolidation are different. Consolidation typically refers to combining all your federal student loans into one new federal loan. It does not necessarily lower your interest rate as your current rates will be averaged and rounded into one new rate. Consolidation makes is easier to manage multiple federal payments. Learn more about federal loan consolidation from Federal Student Aid.

Should I refinance my student loans?

There are generally three main reasons people consider refinancing their student loans. The biggest draw to refinancing is to lower the interest rate you’re currently paying and thus save money. The other two reasons you may want to consider refinancing are to lower your monthly payment amount to help with other debt obligations or living expenses and to simply bring all your student loans together so that you only have to make one monthly student loan payment.

It’s important to note that not everyone with student loans can save money. Before jumping into refinancing, spend some time determining if you can lower your interest rate and how much money you could actually save.

Because private student loans are not guaranteed by the government, private loan lenders take on more risk, so they typically look for candidates with good credit. If you’re a working adult with a decent income and pay your loans and other bills on time every month, you should consider refinancing. Look at lenders who are upfront with their loan details. At Iowa Student Loan, we’ll provide the different interest rates and options you’re eligible for based on your credit score and you don’t have to complete a full application to learn that.

You can pre-qualify in less than a minute with no impact to your credit score and no obligation to apply.

Pre-Qualify Now

What is a good student loan interest rate?

It can be difficult to tell if you’re getting a good rate on your student loans. The rates you’re eligible for will always vary based on your credit score and the terms of the loan. Typically, rates between 3.00% and 7.00% are good rates in today’s market. If you have a student loans with interest rates higher than 7.00%, you should definitely consider refinancing to see if you can receive better rates. Even if your current loans have rates between 5.00% and 7.00%, it may still makes sense for you to look into your refinancing options. Simply lowering your rate from around 5.50% to closer to 3.50% can make a significant difference in the amount you repay over the life of your loan.

How much student loan debt can I refinance?

This varies depending on the lender. Iowa Student Loan will refinance up to $200,000 in education debt. Be sure to research this before you choose a lender.

Is refinancing worth it? What are the risks?

Refinancing can help you save money and simplify student loan repayment, but there are some risks to consider before refinancing. The biggest risk to keep in mind is if you choose to refinance federal loans into a private loan, you will lose the federal loan benefits. It’s important to understand these benefits before you make any decisions regarding your federal loans.

What does this mean? Federal student loans come with more options for repayment, such as income-driven repayment plans, which use a borrower’s income and family size to determine the minimum monthly payment amount. Federal student loans also include more deferment and forbearance options as well as loan forgiveness programs for certain borrowers. These vary depending on the specific loan, but if you choose to refinance federal loans into a private loan, you will forfeit the federal benefits. If you do not foresee any difficulty paying your minimum payments, then refinancing is a viable option. It’s important to note that if you have federal PLUS Loans for parents, those loans do not offer the same federal benefits as federal loans made to student borrowers.

How do I refinance my student loans?

If you determine that you’re a good candidate for refinancing, you should shop around for the best refinancing option. Many lenders will ask you for some personal information (like your name, address and Social Security number) to give you an idea of the rates you’re eligible for and to pre-qualify you for their loan. After you’ve chosen the best fit, you will submit an application to officially be approved for refinancing.

graphic with text that reads credit score, income and debt-to-income ratio

Lenders look at a few main factors when you apply to refinance. As with most loans, they consider your credit score, income and your debt-to-income ratio. Before refinancing, you may want to look at your credit score to see if you are eligible for better rates. But understand that your credit score varies by different rating agencies and the calculation that is used, so they credit score you see from one source may not match the one the lender uses. It is also a good idea to limit other debt, such as credit cards, if possible. Lenders want to know you will be able to repay your new loan.

Will refinancing my student loans hurt my credit score?

Refinancing your student loans will not hurt your credit score, as long as you don’t refinance multiple times in a short period. When you apply to refinance your student loans, the lender will perform a hard credit inquiry to view your credit history and score. This shows up on your credit score and multiple inquiries close together can have a negative impact.

However, this does not mean you shouldn’t look around and compare different rates. Getting pre-qualified for student loan refinancing to see potential rates typically does not involve a hard credit inquiry. Lenders typically do what is called a soft credit inquiry to get an idea of your credit history and those do not impact your credit score.

What else, besides interest rates, should I consider when refinancing?

Student loan interest rates are important, but they’re not the only consideration. You’ll want to understand the repayment terms and consider the services each lender offers, such as ways they accept payment and if assistance, should you need it, is an option. If a lender has a reputation for being difficult to communicate with, this can be a major deterrent even if their rates are competitive.

Can I refinance my loans with Iowa Student Loan?

If you’re a good candidate for refinancing, we want to help you save money. Complete our pre-qualification process to see what rates you can receive. There’s no credit impact to pre-qualify, and you only have to answer nine quick questions to reset your student loans and reduce your stress!

Pre-Qualify Now

By: Iowa Student Loan

Making the Leap: Financially Preparing for College Life

The first year of college may bring a lot of new experiences, and for many, this includes the need to budget a limited income for the first time. Earnings from a summer job can provide financial help for the school year as well as the opportunity to learn how to be financially independent.

Follow these five steps to make the most of the opportunity this summer.

1. Take time to really understand the financial aid package. Make sure you have a good idea of expected aid and how much college will cost for the student as well as the parents or other financial supporters.

  • Each college provides set costs for tuition, fees, room and board, and expected expenditures like books and transportation.
  • In addition, families often face additional expenses that either add up over time or weren’t expected.
  • How much awarded financial aid is gift aid? Grants and scholarships do not need to be paid back and fall into this category. Be aware, though, that many awards are one-time gifts and are not renewable for future years.
  • Is work-study reliable? Work-study awards are dependent on the student finding a qualified position and receiving the wage and hours required to total the award. Check the college’s website for a job board or financial aid section to gather information. Social media can also provide insight on whether students are able to find adequate work-study jobs.
  • Remember that loans must be paid back, with interest. It may help to calculate an expected monthly payment for anticipated college loans and compare that to average monthly payments for a car, house or other major expenses.

2. Track spending. Keeping track of purchases for a week or a month helps indicate where and on what most spending occurs.

  • Apps like Mint and tools like banking or card statements can be helpful.
  • A pattern of where spending can be cut or reduced may start to become clear.

3. Set up a basic budget. Budgets compare income and other funds to monthly expenses to keep consumers from spending more money than they have.

  • Take into account taxes and other deductions that will be removed from gross earnings. A site like PaycheckCity can help estimate these.
  • Divide up expenses into general categories based on typical spending.
  • Consider how spending will change once the academic term begins.

4. Plan out a monthly budget. Use realistic numbers to calculate an in-school budget.

  • Don’t forget that earnings will need to cover expenses for the remainder of the summer plus the entire academic year, unless the student also works while taking classes.
  • If a school-year job with the desired hours or pay doesn’t happen, or if it’s necessary to reduce hours to concentrate on schoolwork, each dollar may have to go further.
  • If parents are contributing to expenses, how will that happen? Options include a one-time gift intended to last through the school year, a monthly deposit into a checking account, a shared credit card account for certain purchases, or another method.

5. Evaluate the results. Adjustments may be required, based on the initial budget and events that occur later.

By: Iowa Student Loan

How to Pay off Student Loans Smarter (And Faster)

an excited college graduate, text reads pay off your student loans smarter (nd faster

Have you ever felt like you’ll be repaying student loans your entire life? You’re not alone. Racking up student loan debt can seem like the end of the world, but there are many manageable ways to chip away at your debt. With these tips, you can work toward paying off your student loans faster.

Refinance Your Student Loans to Save

Refinancing is an option everyone should look into as it is one of the most effective ways to save money on loans and pay them off quicker without breaking your budget.

When you refinance your student loans, you may get a lower interest rate, which would mean paying less interest. In some cases, paying less interest can mean you pay thousands less in interest charges over the life of the loan.

Iowa Student Loan provides a simple and very quick way to find out the rate you would qualify for without impacting your credit score. And, if you have someone with good credit who is willing to cosign a refinancing loan with you, you may qualify for an even better rate, saving you even more in interest charges.

Pre-Qualify Now

Pay More than Your Minimum Student Loan Payment

One of the most effective ways to pay your student loans off quicker is to pay extra money each month. Paying your minimum required amount might be enough to keep you in good standing but that means it will still take you the entire repayment term to get out of debt.

Adding just a little extra money each month can make a huge difference, and if you have the disposable income to pay an additional amount each month you’ll save money on interest and time in repayment.

Infographic titled how to conquer student loans with extra payments

Download this infographic as a PDF.

Make Additional Student Loan Payments Throughout the Year

If putting extra money toward your student loans each month is unattainable, you can instead make a few extra payments throughout the year. This is a great place to start if you’re still trying to figure out just how much you have left over in your budget each month. Set a goal to make an extra payment once every three or six months and slowly reduce your student loan debt.

Make Some Extra Money to Put Toward Student Loans

If you feel like you don’t have enough income to contribute extra to your student loan payments, consider getting a part-time job to help with your budget. The best kind of part-time job is one where you get to do something you enjoy. For some people that means taking up tutoring, babysitting or music lessons. Others prefer to work at a restaurant or get a job at the mall (did somebody say discount?). Find something that works well with your lifestyle and schedule.

Just remember to make a plan to manage your money. Come up with a schedule for saving money or putting it directly toward the balance of a loan as you reach a certain amount. It can be too easy to spend money that is designated for loans if it’s just sitting around, so make sure you develop a good system for accountability.

Creative Ways to Make Extra Money

If you don’t want to commit to a part-time job, try a more creative way to make money. Driving for Uber or Lyft allows you to earn some extra cash on your own time, without an ongoing commitment. Or, you may be able to find freelancing work on different websites that fit with your skills. These are just a few of the more unique ways to make extra money to put toward your student loans debt.

See if Loan Forgiveness Is an Option

Loan forgiveness is not necessarily too good to be true! Not all people are eligible for this benefit, but some careers are eligible for loan forgiveness. And if you’re eligible, loan forgiveness can save you thousands of dollars.

The federal government offers several loan forgiveness programs depending on your career and types of debt. Be sure to use a reputable source for information on federal student loan forgiveness programs, like the Federal Student Aid website.

Many states also offer loan forgiveness programs for teachers, nurses and workers in other high-demand but lower paying fields. Be sure to check out what the state you live in offers as far as loan forgiveness programs. Another source is the financial aid office at the college or university you attended; as those experts can help you find loan forgiveness or grant programs.

Don’t Blow Raises and Bonuses

Everyone loves getting a bonus or raise at work. You can put this money to good use by paying off your student loans. If you receive an unexpected bonus or raise and are not relying on the money for anything specific, put it directly toward the balance on your loans. These can really help to reduce your debt and won’t even break the bank.

Budget to Save Money in Other Areas

Not sure how people manage to have left over money after bills, loans and fun? You should try out budgeting! Budgeting is great because it establishes boundaries for your spending and helps you keep track of where your money is going. When you’re not tracking your spending, you might not even realize just how much you’re spending on silly things.

Once you’re actively managing your spending, you’re more accountable and you’ll likely find you have more money to spend — money that you can put toward paying off loans, saving or investing. Making small changes is the best place to start. Consider cooking more at home to save on eating out, making coffee at home instead of stopping on your way to work or renting a movie instead of seeing one in the theater. This monthly budget calculator can help you get started.

Tips to Chip Away at Debt

Remember these tips to work toward paying off your student loans faster:

  • Consider refinancing your existing student loans. See if you pre-qualify today.
  • Pay more than the required minimum monthly payment amount.
  • Make additional student loan payments when you can.
  • Put any extra earnings or bonuses toward student loans.

Get creative! With a little bit of effort your student loans will be gone before you know it.

Pre-Qualify Now

By: Iowa Student Loan

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