After years of all-nighters and churning out paper after paper, you have finally walked across the stage and earned your college degree. Now, it's off to find a job, the perfect apartment and maybe even buy yourself that nice car you thought you could never afford. If you're like many college graduates, it won't be too long after you get comfortable with your new, fancy lifestyle, where you can afford pretty much anything you want, that your grace-period will end and your student loan payments will begin.
For those struggling to figure out how they will pay off their student loans and not be stuck making payments for the next 10 to 20 years of your life, there are a number of things you can do to get your loans paid off and rid yourself of this huge debt.
Source: Think Progress
When it comes to any bill, it is always wise to pay it on time. It is really no different with student loan payments. Paying a bill late leads to late fees, which lead to you spending more money in the long run. Your goal is to decrease your debt, not add to it. If you tend to pay bills a few days late, consider setting up automatic payments. The only thing you will have to do is make sure the money is available in your account, but for the most part, you won't have to worry every month if you have paid all of your bills on time and avoided late fees.
Every month when you pay your student loans, it may be tempting to only pay the minimum balance and become content with the amount you owe decreasing at a turtle speed. As far as you're concerned, you're not falling behind on payments and following the 10-year payoff plan that many people do, so you are in good shape. Student loans are very similar to credit cards in the sense that it is beneficial to make more than the minimum payment every month. This will help you pay off your loans faster and allow you to breathe easier sooner because it will be one less thing you have to worry about paying. If you are paying $50 a month, up the payment to $100. If that is too much, consider adding a small amount, even if it is just $10.
While in school, you may take out loans from several different lenders at varying interest rates. Because of this, it is very likely that you have a loan that is more expensive than the others. Figure out which one of your loans has the higher interest rate and pay that one off first. You can still make payments on the others, but this specific loan could be the one that you choose to make more than the monthly minimum payment on.
You are probably making just enough money to pay all of your monthly bills and maybe splurge two to three times a month on clothes, shoes, dining out and other random purchases. Things may be going smoothly, but you could actually be able to pay off more of your loans and have a little extra spending cash if you were to start budgeting your cash a little better. It's time to trim the fat and stop purchasing things you don't really need. Cancel those unnecessary memberships, lower your cell phone data plan and be smarter about the items you purchase while on a shopping trip.
One option that many people may not consider taking advantage of is getting a job that offers loan forgiveness. Basically, if you were to work as a teacher or obtain a public service position, after a certain amount of time and loan payments, your loans will be forgiven. In some cases, only part of your loans will be forgiven if you meet all of the requirements. This may not be the full amount of your loans, but even half of this debt being forgiven is better than you paying the money yourself.
You may not have been lucky enough to pay for college with grants and scholarships, but you are smart enough to avoid having to make loan payments for the next 20 years of your life. It is not fun paying any bill, but it must be done, and it is a great feeling knowing that you have your bills paid and are free of them until next month. Just imagine how you'll feel once you have no more student loan debt haunting you and constantly digging into your pockets.