Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and relief efforts from the government, student loan lenders and others. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.
* * *
Although you’re only required to make a payment on your student loans once per month, you could consider paying every two weeks instead. With biweekly student loan payments, you’ll pay the same amount each month, but you’ll end up making one extra payment every year.
This strategy helps you pay off your loans faster without any extra effort on your part. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of making biweekly student loan payments. Specifically, we’ll touch on:
- Biweekly student loan payments: what they do and how they work
- How to set up biweekly payments in 3 steps
- Why this method can reduce your total loan costs
- Final thoughts on biweekly payments: small steps toward a big win
By switching to a biweekly payment schedule for your student loans, you’ll make an extra payment toward your loans each year without even having to plan for it.
With a monthly payment schedule, you’ll make 12 payments a year. However, with a biweekly payment schedule, you could make 26 half-payments, or 13 full payments, which expedites your repayment.
And that extra payment will decrease your repayment time and the amount of interest you owe.
So if you’re ready to get a foot up on your loans by sneaking in an extra payment each year, here’s a detailed rundown of each of the steps in the plan outlined above.
1. Split your monthly bill in half and pay every other week
You can pay biweekly by splitting your monthly bill in half and applying that half payment to your account every other week. For example, if you’re paying $500 a month, you’ll instead pay $250 every other week.
It might take some adjustment if you’re on a strict monthly budget. However, if you get paid biweekly, you can line up each half-payment with your paycheck. Remember that if you get paid biweekly, you’ll be getting an extra paycheck for two months each year.
2. Be sure to make both payments before your due date
Your first two biweekly payments should be ahead of your next bill. If you start now but make only one biweekly payment before getting the bill, you’ll end up paying less than you owe.
The easiest way to get started is to begin one month ahead. You can keep this simple by plotting out the dates on a calendar or setting up autopay.
3. Confirm your lender applies your payments correctly
If you have more than one loan with a servicer, pick one to receive the extra funds. For example, if you’re looking for the fastest way to pay off your debt, select the account with the highest interest rate. If you’re looking for a more immediate win, choose the account with the lowest balance.
If you’re having trouble finding these options on your servicer’s website, call the company so a representative can walk you through the process.
It’s hard to think about all the things people put off because of student loan debt. Many graduates leave college with a degree that costs more than a down payment on a house. This means some will wait to buy a home or get married, postponing major life events.
So if you can pay off your student loans even a little bit faster, consider it.
Let’s look at an example using a biweekly student loan payment calculator. Let’s say you borrowed $40,920 in federal loans at a 4.53% interest rate. The standard repayment term for a federal student loan is 10 years.
Over 10 years — or 120 payments — you’d pay $10,031 in interest. That’s $425 a month for a total of $50,951. If you switch to a biweekly payment schedule, you’ll instead make $212 biweekly payments.
You’ll pay $8,974 in interest, which saves you almost $1,060 in interest. Plus, you’ll pay off your loan early, needing only 109 months instead of 120 months.
With our calculators, you can estimate your monthly payment and total interest based on your repayment plan. For instance, you can use this “lump sum” tool as a sort-of biweekly student loan payment calculator to see how much a single extra payment for the year will save you (and how it may move your “debt-free” payoff date closer):
Lump Sum Extra Payment Calculator
Making biweekly payments on your student loans will result in an extra payment each year without any extra effort on your part. And that extra payment could make a big impact on your time in debt and interest paid.
One big win you’ll get from biweekly student loan payments is the momentum you gain. Any small moves you can make to decrease the amount of time you’re paying on your loans — and your interest — will make a huge difference in the end.
If you’re looking to pay off your student loans even faster, you could consider making an extra payment toward the principal or rounding up each payment by $5 or even $10. And if you’re paying interest on your student loans, here’s how you can claim it as a tax deduction.
Rebecca Safier and Sage Singleton Evans contributed to this report.