Sick of cutting down on things you love to afford your student loan payments? Feel like you’re not making progress on your debt? It’s easy to feel stuck dealing with the same student loan debt payment month after month – a couple hundred bucks out of your checking account, and only a couple hundred bucks less in debt. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re willing to exercise a little creativity, you can cut down your debt much faster without living off ramen noodles.
Here are a few unconventional strategies that can help you pay back and manage your student loans:
1) Do some good
If you’re interested in serving others, you may consider a career in public service – a job choice that could help you get your student loans forgiven. Federal student loan borrowers with public sector jobs could have a lot of debt wiped away through the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. If you’re a full-time public service employee (think government, non-profit or military) you may be able to qualify for forgiveness. This can include jobs in law enforcement, public school administration and public health.
2) Get your employer to foot the bill
More and more employers are recognizing the impact that student loans have on their young employees. Consider asking your employer if they would be willing to include student loan repayment reimbursement as part of your benefits package. They may be willing to reimburse your student loan debt in exchange for other professional development funds that you have access to. Even if your employer doesn’t offer you a tuition reimbursement program, consider using extra money from your job – like bonuses or raises – toward paying back your student loan debt faster.
3) Pick jobs that are in demand and that will help you pay down your debt
Some jobs are better than others, especially when it comes to your student loans. For example, professions like nurses and teachers may be able to take advantage of special state student loan forgiveness programs. Governments and states want to attract candidates for jobs that are in-demand, so they may have programs that will let you follow the career of your dreams without as much debt.
4) Move somewhere cheap
One of the biggest expenses you have in your post-college life? Rent. While it may seem tempting to spend your paycheck on a big place of your own, living frugally and somewhere affordable is the best way to save money – money that could be directed to paying off your student loans. Consider getting a roommate or moving further from the city to save money.
5) Take advantage at tax time
If you’re paying back student loans, you’re also paying back a portion of the interest that’s accumulated on your loans – and that means you can get a pretty nice tax break from the Federal Government. When you file your taxes, you’ll be able to deduct the interest you’ve paid on qualified student loans – up to $4,000 for tuition and other related fees. The American Opportunity Tax Credit also lets you claim up to $2,500 for qualified higher education expenses.
6) Use a student loan payment tracker, like Student Loan Hero
If you’re serious about repaying your student loan debt, you’ll need to track your progress. Websites like Student Loan Hero not only let you track your progress and motivate you to pay off your debt, but they can help you find repayment plans, such as private and federal student loan refinancing that could save you money in the long run, too.
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