You might have hated taking math in high school and wondered why you had to continue studying the subject in college (or why crazy people like me take three semesters of calculus). Yet, while you might not use it in your career, math is necessary at times. One of those times is repaying your student loans, especially if you want to pay off your loans faster while saving money. Luckily, there are student loan calculators that can help you do the heavy lifting.
I’m not saying that you need to sit down with your handheld calculator (I got rid of mine years ago) or Excel spreadsheets to sort all of this out. Fortunately, those highly familiar with student loans have already done the hard work for you. As a result, they’ve created student loan calculators specifically for this purpose.
Here are the best student loan calculators from around the web that can help you to make smart, informed decisions concerning your repayment strategy.
1. Repayment Estimator from the US Department of Education
What it does: Compares repayment plans for student loans
Why it’s helpful: Uses your loan and income information to show interest, forgiveness, and amounts paid for each repayment plan option
The Repayment Estimator is really handy for determining how much of your student loans could be forgiven if you’re on an eligible plan. Instead of blindly enrolling in an eligible plan and hoping that you’re making the right choice, the Repayment Estimator breaks it down for you.
One important calculation will reveal whether you qualify for student loan forgiveness in the first place. In some of the cases shown in this post, you might not.
The Repayment Estimator also takes your current income and assumes that your discretionary income will grow by 5% per year. While your income might not change by exactly that much, it’s much more likely to increase than stagnate during the next 20 years.
2. Repayment Calculator from Student Loan Hero
What it does: Shows you the effects of adding extra payments and choosing different repayment strategies
Why it’s helpful: Performs calculations automatically and syncs with your actual loans
Increasing your monthly repayments of student loans will likely help you to save money and pay off your loans more quickly. But knowing how much less money and time it will take is far more powerful and motivating.
The Repayment Student Loan Calculator on your Student Loan Hero account dashboard makes these calculations easy. With the loans you’ve synced to your account (you can sync them in just minutes), this calculator shows what happens when you change your monthly payment.
3. Student Loan Repayment Calculator from New York Times
What it does: Compares schools and repayment
Why it’s helpful: Automatically imports data by college and tells you what income you’ll need to make after college in order to make payments
Don’t know the average debt load of the college you’re attending or considering? This calculator will import a value automatically. All you have to do is type in the school’s name.
Understanding student loan repayment after college can be tough. Sure, paying $300 a month toward student loans doesn’t sound like a lot. But how much do you need to earn to be able to afford this?
The New York Times’s calculator answers this question for you. In this case, it says you’ll need to earn about $35,000 per year to keep student loans at 20% or less of your discretionary income.
Few, if any, student loan calculators harness the power of graphics quite like this calculator. The layout especially makes results easy to understand and to act upon.
4. Refinancing Calculator from Student Loan Hero
What it does: Compares the savings of refinancing loans to current loans
Why it’s helpful: Shows how much you can save by refinancing
Many of the calculators here show you what happens when you change your monthly payments and/or the length of your loan term. But there’s only one way to reduce the total cost of your loans and reduce monthly payments at the same time: refinancing.
The Student Loan Hero Refinancing calculator helps you to decide whether this decision could be right for you. Simply enter your current loan balance and interest rate, and the calculator will estimate your savings.
Unsure of what rates are available? Our post on student loan refinancing options will give you an idea so that you can get accurate estimate savings with the calculator.
5. Student Loan Calculator from the Washington Post
What it does: Shows you how much you need to make based on your student loans
Why it’s helpful: Imports salary information for your profession
Though simple, this calculator is quite helpful for comparing student loan debt to income in a given profession. It imports data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which compiles information on wage estimates. It’s pretty much the go-to source for wage and earnings information.
But beware: The salary is the median salary regardless of experience, not the median starting salary. So be careful when assessing numbers with this feature.
6. Cost of Interest Capitalization Calculator from FinAid
What it does: Calculates the cost of deferring loans
Why it’s helpful: Indicates how much extra you’ll pay by deferring loans
This is the simplest calculator on the list, yet still applies to everyone who takes out student loans. It answers how much deferring loans will cost you.
You should know this number since interest charges don’t stop with unsubsidized loans in deferment. Instead, interest will keep adding up on top of your principal balance. You don’t want to be surprised when your principal turns out to be higher than your initial balance.
Use this calculator to find out whether deferring loans makes sense for you.
7. Payoff vs. Invest Calculator from Student Loan Hero
What it does: Tells you if it’s better to pay off debt or invest first
Why it’s helpful: Helps to settle the age-old question of paying off debt or investing based on your situation
Which will be better off for you in the long run: paying more toward your student loans or investing that money? This payoff vs. invest calculator helps you to figure it out.
Simply input your current student loan debt and interest rates, and complete the other information to get an estimate. Scroll to the bottom, and you’ll get a clear answer based on the values you’ve input.
Were you surprised by any of the results you found using these student loan calculators?
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