There are so many student loan repayment options out there that it can feel overwhelming.
If you’re facing student loan debt, what will work best for you is going to depend on a lot of different factors, including the amount of your debt, your income, your life goals, and even your personality.
But don’t worry – if you’re unsure of where to start, there are a handful of online tools that can help kick off your repayment plan with little work on your end.
5 Tools for Student Loan Repayment Help
Here’s an overview of some of the best tools to help with student loan repayment. Which will you choose?
1. National Student Loan Data System
Before you can start seriously investigating student loan repayment options, you need to know what you owe.
When it comes to federal loans, the best way to find out is to log in to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). This government tool will show you your total federal student loan debt, as well as break down individual loans by type.
Tip: Here’s how to use NSLDS to find your student loans.
The drawback to using the NSLDS to find your student loans is that it only shows federal loans.
If you have private student loans and/or consumer debt in the form of credit cards, auto loans, a mortgage, etc., visit annualcreditreport.com to see your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus and get a complete picture of your financial situation.
If you spot errors on your report, you can also take action to have them removed or resolved.
Tip: Annualcreditreport.com is the only website where you can see your credit reports once a year for free (you cannot view your scores here, though). All other websites will charge you money to pull your credit reports.
3. Automatic payments
Once you find all your student loan servicers, you want to make sure you stay current on payments and also pay as little in interest as possible. Making automatic payments – often referred to as “auto-pay” – is one approach to student loan repayment that can help you achieve both of these goals at once.
By signing up for automatic payments through your student loan servicer’s account, you not only ensure you never miss a payment, but may also be eligible for an interest rate reduction of 0.25%.
Tip: Even if you’re still deciding on an overall repayment strategy, this is an easy way to save a bit of money and put payments on autopilot. Just be sure you keep an eye on your bank accounts and avoid overdrafting, which would defeat the purpose.
4. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 – known more simply as the Dodd-Frank Act – established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
According to its website, the CFPB “helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.”
In addition to providing resources for student loan repayment help, the CFPB also allows you to submit a complaint or share your story if you feel you’ve been mistreated by your student loan servicer (or the provider of any financial product).
Tip: When you submit a complaint on the CFPB website, the organization will forward your complaint along to the company in question and work to get you a response and resolve the issue. Ideally, you won’t ever need this service, but it’s certainly nice to have it available if you need it.
5. Student Loan Hero
Once you’ve tracked down your federal and private debt and servicers, signing up for a Student Loan Hero account can aggregate all of that information in one place for you.
Having a snapshot of the “big picture” in front of you can help you formulate an overall strategy for student loan repayment that is meaningful to you.
And in case you need assistance determining the best place to start, Student Loan Hero also provides analysis, calculators, and recommendations to pay off your debts that are tailored to your particular situation. This may help you decide whether something like refinancing or consolidation is right for you.
Tip: Check out our full list of student loan calculators here. Compare repayment plans, interest rates, and more to find out what repayment strategy will save you the most money over time.
Figure Out What Works for You
Whatever resources you need or find useful, remember that student loan repayment is a personal process that should be driven by your priorities, goals, and finances. Don’t feel pressured by your peers or family to pay more aggressively than is comfortable for you.
Similarly, don’t feel that you should “live it up” and spend money on things that aren’t important to you if a debt-free life is your ultimate goal.
And remember: if you can’t afford your minimum payments, reach out to your servicer and/or investigate private lending options so that you end up with the repayment that aligns with your needs.
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% – 8.09%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.02% – 6.44%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.24%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.79% – 8.39%6||Undergrad & Graduate|