Paying off student loans means knowing when your payments are due. Once the grace period on your student loans ends — usually six months after you graduate — or leave school, you can begin repaying them. You’ll be on the right track to success if you make your first payment on time.
However, taking additional steps right away can also help if you want to get rid of your debt faster, pay less each month and be eligible for loan forgiveness. Here’s how to get started with paying off student loans. But first, it would help to know some common student loan mistakes to avoid.
Common Student Loan Mistakes
Leaving college behind and entering the “real world” can be a tough transition, especially if you’re starting to pay off student loans. Even though you usually have six months until your first payment is due, you can do a lot to prepare.
The more you understand student loan repayment, the more likely you will avoid common mistakes that may severely harm your finances. These student loan pitfalls might include the following:
- Interest accruals during grace periods
- Student loan deferral after graduation
- Using student loan consolidation for the wrong reasons after graduation
- Defaulting on payments
- Repaying your student loans at the minimum after graduation
How to Begin Paying Student Loans
Here’s how to get started and pay off your students loan fast:
Using ‘Found Money’ to Pay off Loans
The money you find between your couch cushions isn’t necessarily “found money.” It does, however, include money that you haven’t budgeted for. You can also use it to repay your student loans.
A few examples may include:
- Tax refunds
- Cash gifts you receive for birthdays or holidays
- Income earned from a side job
- Annual salary bonuses
Using these amounts as a lump sum to cover your loan principal can help you cut down your college debt faster.
Automate Your Payments
If you have leftover money at the end of the month, it may tempt you to pay your student loans off. But you may slow your payment schedule if you don’t have any extra money at the end of the month and your budget is tight. Consider your budget when deciding how much more you can contribute to your student loans each month.
It would help to create an automatic payment schedule for the start of every month. It will prevent you from accidentally spending that money. Avoid spreading your budget too thin when setting your payment amount.
Work Part-time to Limit Your Debt
You can reduce your college debt by working part-time while attending college by using your earnings to lower your borrowing amount to make your repayment plan easier. Your payments do not affect your need-based financial aid eligibility.
You can find out if your school hires for on-campus jobs by checking the resources or career center. Most on-campus jobs are more accommodating to unusual or busy class schedules. Online jobs give you more options to fit your schedule and skill set. You can work full-time between the off-school periods if you wish to earn more money.
Sacrifice Some of Your Finances
Consider your lifestyle. Do you have any extra things that you don’t need? It could be your cable package or bougie subscription boxes. It would help to consider getting a roommate to reduce your housing costs. Has your guest room been sitting unused lately? You can rent it out! Consider what would happen if you could reduce your housing costs drastically.
You could also sell your study materials online if you don’t use them. There are several useful study materials for students and teachers that you can sell online. For instance, you can upload quality study resources like this nursing document and get paid in less than two days to pay off your student loans.
Refinance Your Loan
You might reduce your student loan interest rate or shorten your repayment period by refinancing. Unless you have a creditworthy cosigner or have built a solid credit history, this option may not be available after you graduate. It can take time to establish a credit history and meet the requirements for refinance lenders if you do not have one.
It would be best if you also had a stable income or employment history to qualify for a loan. Student loan forgiveness programs and income-driven repayment plans won’t be available if you refinance federal student loans. See which lenders offer you the best rates before refinancing.
Getting your student loans paid off sooner rather than later requires a proactive approach. While there are many ways to handle your debt more efficiently, the worst option is to do nothing.