Refinancing with Earnest
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Originally published Aug. 21, 2015
If you have over $100,000 in student loans, there are several strategies you can use to pay it off quickly without giving up decades of your life to debt.
I know the feeling of this level of debt all too well. Together, my husband and I have nearly $400,000 in student loan debt from graduate school and medical school. And my husband’s not even done with medical school yet — or with adding student loans to that total!
Because he’ll be a physician in a few months, he’s on his way to earning a high income. However, that doesn’t diminish the student loan burden we both feel. So we’ll be trying a combination of things to eliminate this debt entirely.
How to pay off $100k in student loans: 4 savvy strategies
If you also have $100k+ in student loans, here are some of the best strategies to pay it off as fast as possible.
1. Minimize lifestyle inflation
If you have $100,000 in student loans or more because you attended professional school, chances are you now also have a high income because of your education. Whether you’re a doctor, lawyer or went to business school, you likely had to put in a lot of time over several years to learn your craft.
Because you’ve spent so long at school, it’s easy to inflate your lifestyle once you get that first paycheck. However, I want to encourage you to keep living like a student for as long as possible.
For example, if you lived off of $30,000 per year while you were in graduate school, try to survive on the same amount during your first few years in the professional world. Hold off on making a new car purchase or buying a home.
If your take-home pay is $150,000 per year and you live on only $30,000, you now have $120,000 to put toward your debt and the interest your debt has accrued. Do this for a year (or more, if needed), and you could pay off your debt easily while having the rest of your career to enjoy the high income you worked so hard to achieve.
It’s important to note that avoiding lifestyle inflation can help anyone pay off their debt, regardless of their income level. It just comes down to spending much less than you earn so that you can pay off debt aggressively and enjoy a life without it.
2. Research student loan forgiveness programs
Six figures of debt can be daunting for anyone, no matter how high your income is. However, there are many different types of loan forgiveness that can help you pay off large portions of your debt.
Perhaps the best-known loan forgiveness program is Public Service Loan Forgiveness. With PSLF, you have to work in a nonprofit, governmental organization or another approved entity. After making 120 eligible on-time payments, your loans can be forgiven — and it doesn’t matter whether you have $2,000 or $200,000 left on your balance.
That said, the PSLF program might not be around forever, especially since some politicians have proposed eliminating it altogether. Plus, it requires that you diligently file the right paperwork every year so your application doesn’t get rejected. For now, the program remains functional, but there’s no guarantee that will always be the case.
Outside of PSLF, explore other loan forgiveness programs, such as teacher loan forgiveness, as well as student loan repayment assistance programs. Some employers also offer a student loan matching benefit to employees, so if you’re job-searching, look for companies with this perk.
Finally, note that income-driven repayment plans offer loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years of on-time payment. Although this is a long time to be in debt, your payments might be low, and at least you’ll have a light at the end of the tunnel. That said, you might still have to pay taxes on any amount forgiven via an income-driven plan.
3. Look into student loan refinancing
Although federal loans have the most flexible repayment plans, sometimes student loan refinancing is the best option if you’re looking to save money.
With refinancing, you might be able to get shorter repayment terms and larger monthly payments, saving you money on interest over the life of the loan. Alternatively, you can choose a longer term to make your monthly payments less burdensome. And in both cases, you could qualify for a lower interest rate that would save you money regardless.
If you started out with private student loans, you could have interest rates that are higher than what’s available on the market now. In that case, it’s probably worth comparison shopping student loans to see if you can save through student loan refinancing.
4. Focus on increasing your income
If you’re serious about paying off your six figures worth of debt quickly, finding ways to increase your income is also an effective strategy.
You might switch to a new career or change companies to pursue a higher salary. Or you could search for opportunities for a promotion and pay raise at your current employer.
Outside of boosting your main source of income, you could supplement it with a side hustle. There are a lot of freelance opportunities to choose from, but think about where your skills and experiences lie. If you have an MBA, for example, you could work part time and help businesses learn how to budget and turn a profit.
As long as it doesn’t consume too much of your time or energy, a side hustle is something you could do outside of your regular office hours to make extra money. Then, you can apply those funds to your student loan balance to pay it down faster.
Conquering $100,000 in student loans
Ultimately, having over $100,000 in student loans — and figuring out how to pay off student loans — can be overwhelming. I know because my family lives with it every day. However, the good news is that in acquiring that amount of debt, you’ve also increased your earning potential.
By working hard, raising your income, keeping your living expenses low and considering refinancing and other repayment options, you can be well on your way to paying off your debt in a relatively short period of time and enjoying your income going forward without the burden of debt.
Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.49% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.48% effective April 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.49% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.41%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.11%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.98% – 9.72%6||Undergrad & Graduate|