You may owe Student Loan Lender A $300 on the first of the month, while Student Loan Lender B doesn’t want their money until the 10th. And then there is Student Loan Lender C who takes their money on the 24th.
Is your head spinning yet?
If you are struggling to keep up with your payments and important dates, there are few simple steps you can take to better manage your student loan payments and keep organized.
Get to know your student loans
Starting off on the right foot means arming yourself with the most up-to-date information about your loans and lenders.
Luckily, the government makes it really easy for you to track down how much you owe and who you owe it to using the National Student Loan Data System (or NSLDS). As we’ve explained, all you will need is your FSA pin and social security number to get in. And because it is 99 percent accurate, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get the most comprehensive picture of the total amount of debt owed.
Now that you know the total amount you owe and who you owe it to, you can start looking at your monthly payments. If you have not received your first bill yet, you can use a student loan payment calculator to get an estimate. But for guaranteed numbers, contact your loan servicer directly.
Knowing the who, what, when, and where will save you from a surprise down the line when your first bill creeps up on you. In addition, having these facts at hand will help you manage your student loan payments with the help of the following five organizational tips.
5 simple ways to manage student loan payments
1. Create a budget
A budget is one of the most powerful organization systems you can use. For student loan borrowers, having a budget that incorporates your student loan payments will ensure your money is ready for the monthly payment.
It can tell you when your monthly payment may be too high for your financial situation or when you can afford to pay off more than the minimum.
Budget planners, such as online tools or spreadsheets, are available in many different forms. When deciding which budgeting planner works for you, think about how much time you want to commit putting in the numbers (by hand will take longer) and which system works for your lifestyle.
2. Make a System
Think about a regular day in your life: When you open your mail, where does it go? Does it sit on the counter, hang out in your car, make it to the garbage bin?
Stacks of mail can be a pain to sort through, but it can lead to you forgetting that bills are due or paperwork needs to be filled out.
Instead of suffering from mail pile fatigue, purchase an inexpensive mail organizer that manages a paper nightmare. Find one with slots or designated areas for unopened and opened mail, as well as “to-be-paid” and “paid” sections.
You can even go as far as to color code these slots based on each loan or bill you have to pay.
If your mail is the digital type, set up your online system just like the mail. Make folders in your email inbox for each loan and set your email to alert you when you receive a notification from a loan servicer.
3. Save the (important) dates
One way you can cut down on bills being due at different times of the month is to request a student loan payment due date change through your servicer. For instance, ask that all your payments be due on the first of the month, or on payday.
If a change isn’t possible, put aside one hour a week on Sunday or Monday as your “bill pay day.” During this time, sit down with your mail and pay all of your student loan bills due during that upcoming week. You’re more likely to stay on track when this becomes a weekly habit.
For those on a payment plan determined by their income (such as IBR), you may be required to reapply yearly with updated income information. Failing to provide this information on time can result in your payments reverting back into the Standard Payment plan where the amount you pay may be significantly higher.
To avoid missing a due date, be sure to use your calendar or planner (whether on your phone or an old-school paper version) to give yourself plenty of reminders. This is especially important if you will need to collect verification paperwork that might take extra time.
4. Put your bank to work
One of the easiest ways to organize your student loans is to not have to think about them at all! Opt for automatic billing, and as long as you always keep a cushion of cash in your account, you’ll never have to deal with a missed payment or a lost check.
Another option many organized budgeters love is to set up a separate checking account just for your student loans.
To make this method even easier, consider setting up a direct deposit that splits your paycheck up for you and puts the exact amount you need to cover student loan payments into the designated account automatically. This way, you’ll never miss it, and you’ll start to learn to live without it.
5. Consider student loan refinancing or consolidation
If you’ve tried every organization method out there, but you still feel overwhelmed by the amount of your student loan payments, it may be time to refinance or consolidate your loans.
When you consolidate your loans, all your individual loans are combined into one new loan, with one interest rate and one monthly payment. Usually, student loan consolidation doesn’t really save money, but it can help make multiple loans more manageable.
Refinancing your student loans can have additional benefits. Not only does refinancing consolidate all your loans into one, just like consolidation, but it can also potentially lower your interest rate and the length of your payment term, saving thousands of dollars over time.
The key to great organization
To stay on top of your loan payments, the best thing you can do is get organized — especially if you are paying more than one lender or are new to the loan payment process.
Learn everything you can about how much you owe on each loan. Then, build an organizational system that truly helps you manage your money effectively.
By getting a handle on your student loan payments, you can bid farewell to late fees and ensure your payment plan works for you and your budget.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 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 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% 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 Month/Day/Year, 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 08/21/18. 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 ourstudent 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.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.
Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.
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.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
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 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.46% – 6.97%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.57% – 8.44%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.05% – 6.47%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.24%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|