Student loan debt can be debilitating for your financial life post-graduation. And for many borrowers, it feels like you’re facing a lifetime of loan payments. But it doesn’t need to be that way if you get a solid debt repayment plan in place. So if you’re staring down loan repayment, here are the 5 best ways to tackle student debt.
1. Organize Your Loans and Know Your Payments
Step one for managing student debt is to get organized. Many borrowers take out multiple loans throughout their education. And that means you’ll likely have loans with various amounts due as well as different interest rates.
To stay organized, create a spreadsheet that outlines:
- The lender, including contact information for questions or payment issues
- Loan type (federal, private, subsidized, unsubsidized, etc.)
- Starting amount due
- Minimum monthly payment
- Payment due date
- Interest rate
These details will help you make informed decisions about how to prioritize loan repayment.
2. Choose a Repayment Strategy
Once you have each of your loans outlined, you can think about your approach to student debt repayment. Two of the most popular debt repayment strategies are the debt snowball, which focuses on paying off the lowest amount of debt first, and the debt avalanche, which starts with the highest-interest debt.
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When it comes to student loans, borrowers often plan to pay back the debt over years, if not decades. And that means attacking the debt with the highest interest first can often result in significant savings. There are calculators available online that can help you view cost savings between different debt payoff strategies. And choosing the right one can help you effectively tackle student debt and stick with your plan for the long term.
3. Avoid Unnecessary Fees
There’s nothing worse when you’re trying to pay down debt than to have more stacked on top. Lenders may try to charge fees for late payments, which you can easily combat by paying on time.
But also be wary of fees associated with loan forbearance and returned payments, which can be avoided with proper financial management. If you’re not sure which fees your lender charges or if you’ve incurred an unexplained penalty, reach out to your lender for more details.
4. Consider Refinancing or Consolidation
If you’re managing many high-interest student loan accounts, sometimes looking to refinance or take out a debt consolidation loan can end up saving you a nice chunk of change. For refinancing or a debt consolidation loan to be effective, you’ll want to look for an option that offers a favorable interest rate and a repayment timeline you’re comfortable with.
The best debt consolidation offers are typically available to those with higher credit scores. But at any credit score, it’s wise to shop around for a lender that makes debt consolidation an effective saving strategy to pay off debt sooner.
5. Avoid Scams
As the number of student loan borrowers increases, so too will the scams associated with debt repayment. Many people are desperate to pay back their loans and move on with their financial lives. And that means borrowers might consider unsavory options that do nothing but put them further in the hole financially.
Red flags to look out for when it comes to student debt scams include:
- Requesting payment for help with student loan repayment: You can find everything you need online for loan assistance. Don’t ever pay someone for the promise of a better deal.
- Big promises of loan forgiveness: As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Loan forgiveness is ultimately at the hands of your lender and government policy, no one else.
- Asking for passwords for your loan accounts: Scammers may claim they need more loan information and ask you for account access to find it. Never ever give out your passwords to loan accounts!
The Bottom Line
Student debt doesn’t need to follow you around for decades. Instead, take a straightforward approach to debt repayment by getting organized, choosing a repayment strategy, and avoiding fees and scams. By doing so, you’ll be well on your way to tackling student debt before it drags down your financial future.
Brooke is a freelancer who focuses on the financial wellness and technology sectors. She has a passion for all things wellness and spends her days cooking up healthy recipes, running, and snuggling up with a good book and her fur babies.