5 Legit Ways to Lower Your Student Loan Payments
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If you’re like many Americans, you’re looking for ways to lower your student loan payments. Many people are struggling to pay off student loans and if you don’t land the job you hoped you would right out of college, it can be a real challenge to make your monthly student loan payments.
If you’re tempted, as many people are, to just bail on your payments, don’t give in to that temptation! While it may seem like your only option, it’s a big mistake, especially when there are legitimate ways to reduce your student loan payments down to a monthly figure that you and your budget can handle.
Not making your student loan payments can lead to collections calls, ruined credit scores and more. So, if you are having difficulty making your payments, know that you do have options. Below are some examples of ways you can lower your student loan payments.
#1 – Refinance Your Loans
When looking to lower your student loan payments, refinancing is often one of the early options that comes to mind. However, you should know that there are pros and cons to refinancing, particularly if you are trying to reduce your student loan payments by refinancing your federal student loans into private student loans.
When you refinance your loans, you typically lose the ability to enroll in federal income-based repayment plans. So, if you run into trouble making your payments after refinancing, private lenders don’t have as many options for you.
At the same time, when you refinance your student loans, you can often get lower interest rates, which can save you money over the long-term. This may even allow you to pay the loans off quicker as you begin to bring in more income.
If you’re more interested in lowering your monthly payment, you can refinance your loans into a 15, 20, or even 25 year repayment plan. Even though you’ll be paying back your loans for longer, you’ll get short term relief when making your monthly payments.
There are many options to refinance your student loans. We recommend Credible as they’re the simplest platform to work with and provide you with student loan refinancing options in two minutes.
#2 – Side Hustle Like Crazy
The opposite end of the spectrum from refinancing is to lower your student loans by paying them off all at once. Yep, I said it!
Get rid of them! The best way to get rid of your student loans is to work like crazy to pay them off. There are many options you can use to make extra money to pay off your student loans. Below are some practical, simple and fast ways to reduce your student loan payments that you can start right now:
- Deliver meals with DoorDash
- Babysitting – set up a profile with Care.com so you can get referrals and more clients
- Do odd jobs around your city through TaskRabbit
The above are just a few of the ways you can make extra money to pay off student loans. Think outside the box and you’ll be surprised by how many opportunities you can find.
If you’re having trouble making your student loan payments, you’ve probably already cut as many expenses as you can to afford them. So, the next logical step is to think about practical ways you can increase your income, because more income = more money to throw at your student loans and get rid of them faster.
Everyone has the ability to side hustle. (It’s how I got started in the business I own now!) So, take some time to think about ways you can earn extra money and get started – today.
#3 – Enroll in Income-Based Repayment
You might be familiar with income-based repayment but if you’re not, you can look at the federal student loan website to learn about the many different income based repayment plans as a way to reduce your student loan payments.
Many income-based repayment plans cap your payments at 10 -20 percent of your discretionary income. For example, my husband has six figures of student loan debt from going to medical school. If he were on a standard, 10-year repayment plan, his student loan payments would be around $4,000-$5,000 every month.
Since we can’t afford that while he is in residency, we enrolled in REPAYE, which is one of the income-based repayment plans. Under this plan, the federal government subsidizes our interest payments for the first few years. They also cap our student loan payment at a few hundred dollars a month.
There are eligibility requirements for each income-based repayment plan. Qualifying for one as a way to lower your student loan payments will depend on your specific situation.
#4 – Extended Repayment Plan
If you don’t want to refinance your loans, but still want to change your payment plan to one that is longer, you can inquire about the extended repayment plan for your federal student loans. This can be an effective way to reduce your student loan payments.
*Related: Looking for money saving options? Check out our guide on ways to save money as a college student and still have fun.*
According to the federal student aid office, payments for the extended repayment plan are often lower than payments under the standard or graduated plan. However, you’ll have to do your research and compare it against the income based repayment plan to determine which is cheaper.
#5 – Find an Employer to Help
These days, employers are more likely to offer unique benefits to appeal to the Millennial population. I’ve seen full-time jobs that have offered unlimited vacation, money towards gym memberships and more. Many of them also offer student loan repayment help.
If you’re currently job hunting, do your research. Look for job offers that will help you with your student loan payments. I honestly believe that given the current student loan crisis, more and more companies will start offering benefits like this.
If the prospect of paying off your student loans feels overwhelming, don’t worry. Take a deep breath and know that there are legitimate ways out there for you to reduce your student loan payments to a monthly amount that you can manager.
If you’re feeling frustrated and like your student loans will never get paid off, don’t give up. It is possible to knock them out once and for all. Once you student loans are totally paid off, you won’t ever have to worry about extending your payments or lowering your payments ever again. You will experience financial freedom!
What are some other ways people can lower their student loan payments? If you’ve lowered your student loan payments or found a way to pay them off quickly, how did you achieve that? What advice do you have for someone who wants to do the same?
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