One of the biggest segments of debt in the US today is student loan debt. This form of debt has grown exponentially in the past few decades. Americans now owe well above $1.3 trillion in combined student loan debts. This is nearly twice the amount that Americans currently owe on credit cards. When it comes to paying back these loans that can actually run into six figures, there are some steps to take that can make it seem more achievable.
Assess the Debt
It’s hard to pay off a debt when you do not know how big it is. Many students will take out several loans to pay for school. These loans can include both subsidized and those that are not subsidized. They can also include parent loans. Figuring out how much is owed in total is a good way to arrive at a true understanding of where you might stand.
Start a Snowball
For those who have multiple loans, it might be a good idea to list them all in order of the lowest to the highest. If the lowest debt is relatively small, it can be a good idea to start paying it off as quickly as possible. To do so, be sure to make the minimum payment on all other student loans. Then put every available dollar toward the smallest debt. Once it’s paid off, the amount that was going to it can go to the next smallest debt. This method is called the debt snowball and has been popularized by Dave Ramsey. It might not make the absolute most mathematical sense if some debts have higher interest rates, but it can help psychologically by seeing quick progress come to fruition.
Try to Make More Money
If you owe a few thousand or a few tens of thousands in debt, one major way to accelerate the process of paying it off is through trying to make more money. This could involve getting an additional part-time job. It might involve selling unwanted or even unneeded items. Regardless of the method used, any additional money that you can bring to the table over and above meeting a minimal monthly budget can go toward aggressively paying off debt. The sooner the debt is paid off, the more quickly you can start to build wealth for the future.
Think About Refinancing
If your debt has a relatively high interest rate, it might be worth it to attempt to refinance student loans. This would require you to take out another loan. However, the new loan should have a lower interest rate than the current loan or loans that you might have. Lower interest rates means that less money will have to go toward the lenders in interest payments while more of your hard-earned cash will go toward actually paying down the debt.
If you have several loans outstanding, the minimum payments that you have to make on each of them on a monthly basis can add up to quite a large sum. This might be a great time to try and consolidate the loans if you’ve not already done so. By putting all of the loans together, you’ll frequently have to pay less than you would if you had to pay toward multiple loans each month. This may or may not work, but it’s can be worth the effort if it does.
Look Into Public Service
If your student loan debt is well into the six-figure range, it might be a good idea to work in the public sector. Those who work in the public service sector can sometimes have their student loans forgiven after making 120 payments. Some, if not most, public service jobs pay less than private-sector jobs, but the possibility of loan forgiveness might make it worth taking one.
Take One Payment at a Time
The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. If your student loans are really big, it may seem like trying to eat an elephant. Make sure to think of it as taking one step at a time. Every dollar that you pay is a dollar that you will not have to pay down the road. By putting some of these strategies into practice, it’s possible to deal with student loan debt effectively.