When trying to figure out how to manage student loan debt, getting organized is a top priority. Begin by gathering details about your current payment schedule and plan, figuring out how much you can afford to pay within your current budget, finding ways to shrink your expenses, and reviewing payment-plan options. Here are some student loan solutions to get you started.
9 tips for student loan solutions to your payments
Tip No. 1: Gather the facts
Tip No. 2: Calculate payment options
Tip No. 3: Practice making payments
Tip No. 4: Learn about temporary breaks from payments
Tip No. 5: Consider changing repayment plans.
Tip No. 6: Learn about public service loan forgiveness
Tip No. 7: Reduce budget waste
Tip No. 8: Use automatic payments
Tip No. 9: Include your private student loans in your payment budget
Also: Consider student loan refinancing or consolidation
First of all, you’ll want to survey your immediate student loan situation. When is your payment due? Can you afford it? If the answer to the second question is no, then you’ll want to immediately call your servicer and ask about options, such as switching repayment plans.
If you just graduated, then fortunately, you’ll have a grace period of six months before payments are due. Take this time to get acquainted with your student loans.
Use the Federal Student Aid office’s repayment estimator to estimate payments on a range of payment plans from income-based repayment to extended repayment, and then get more details on those options with our selection of student loan calculators.
If one of the other repayment plans looks better than what you have now, you can switch to it. Expect the change to take up to a few weeks, and don’t forget to keep making your monthly payments in the meantime (unless you pause your repayment — see Tip No. 4, below).
Note: The federal repayment estimator is relatively accurate, but it will only show loans taken out in your name (so no Parent PLUS loans, for example), and only those for Title IV programs. As a result, make sure to verify all estimates with your student loan servicer.
If you have a month or more before beginning student loan payments, this is a perfect time to practice working student loans into your budget. Review your current spending habits and see how much you can really afford to spend on student loan payments. Then set aside this amount in a savings account until your payments are due.
Luckily, federal student loans offer temporary breaks from payments called deferment and forbearance. Deferment is reserved for some cases, such as being in school with at least half-time status, unemployment, or active-duty military status. Forbearance also has a few specific reasons for qualifying, but there’s an option for a temporary forbearance that’s left to the loan servicer’s discretion. Forbearance is especially helpful for people who need a break while getting other financial issues, such as credit card debt, under control in order to afford their payments.
Some private student loan lenders also offer forbearance or deferment, but the amount of time you can pause repayment and the reasons for approval vary by lender.
Often, your unaffordable student loan bill has to do with the payment plan you chose. As mentioned in Tip No. 2, it’s worth comparing your options. Selecting a longer repayment term or an income-based option can reduce payments quite a bit, though you may end up paying more interest over the life of the loan than you would under the standard 10-year plan.
Note that with income-based repayment, the amount you pay each month is capped at a certain percentage of your disposable income. If your earnings are low enough, you could even end up with a monthly payment of $0.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) allows those working for a public service employer, such as the government or a non-profit group, to get the remaining balance on their federal student loans forgiven after 10 years of on-time payments.
The catch, however, is that this program is pretty difficult to qualify for — so far, relatively few borrowers have had their loans wiped away. And of course, you’ll need to have switched off the standard 10-year repayment plan, since there otherwise will be nothing left to forgive after 10 years.
One of the best ways to make student loans more affordable is skimming your budget to remove unnecessary items. For instance, are you using all the subscriptions that you are paying for? Have you asked about specials on your cable or phone bill lately? Could you cut your grocery budget because you overshop and food spoils? Have you compared your auto or home insurance to make sure you are getting your best offer?
These budgeting moves can help you come up with extra money to throw at your student loans without giving up anything important in your life.
Setting up automatic payments on your private or federal student loans can help you stay organized and usually comes with a quarter-percentage-point reduction on your interest rate. So not only can you “set and forget” your student loan payments, but you’ll also save some cost off that debt with zero extra effort.
Caution: Only set up autopay when you know you can afford your payments each month. Otherwise you run the risk of paying for expensive overdrafts.
Since federal and private student loans are generally paid separately, it’s easy to look at them as separate entities. But make sure you look at them as a single payment block when organizing and strategizing. For instance, you might decide to choose an extended federal student loan payment, so you can focus on paying off your private student loans faster.
Sometimes your current student loan payment isn’t affordable for your budget, yet you don’t qualify for income-based repayment. This can be the case when you owe a lot in private student loans with more limited options. In this case, you may want to consider getting a new student loan that can reduce your interest rate or lower your monthly payments by extending.
One such option is refinancing, which is done with a private lender. If your credit is strong, or you have a creditworthy cosigner, you may be able to score a lower interest rate.
A downside to refinancing, however, comes if you have federal loans. By turning your student debt private, you’ll no longer be able to get on income-driven repayment or qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
If you’re not too worried about affording your repayment or if you’re close to paying everything off, then this might not be a big concern. But if it is, you could also consider federal student loan consolidation. While this won’t let you lower your interest rate, it will group all your loans into one, making them much easier to keep track of.
How to manage your student loan debt
Half the stress of managing your student loan debt is in making a plan for long-term budgeting. Knowing your possible student loan solutions is how you beat student loan debt. Take an hour or two to construct your best plan in order to get out of debt more quickly and more easily.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.88% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.85%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.39%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 5.25%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|2.13% – 5.25%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of June 1, 2021.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Interest Rate Disclosure
Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.59% APR to 5.79% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.88% APR to 5.64% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance 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 2.04% and 5.8% to the one month LIBOR. Earnest rate ranges are current as of 6/8/2021, and are subject to change based on market conditions.
Auto Pay Discount Disclosure
You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.
Student Loan Refinancing Loan Cost Examples
These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary.Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest. com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.
One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.
3 Important Disclosures for Navient.
4 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. 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 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates from 2.74% APR to 6.74% APR (with autopay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.39% APR (with autopay). All variable rates are based on the 1-month LIBOR and may increase after consummation if LIBOR increases; see more at SoFi.com/legal/#1. If approved for a loan your rate will depend on a variety of factors such as your credit profile, your application and your selected loan terms. Your rate will be within the ranges of rates listed above. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers, or may become available, such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license #6054612; NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Additional terms and conditions apply; see SoFi.com/eligibility for details. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
6 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.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 04/07/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
7 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
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.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.13%-5.25% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.