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.
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As a parent, it can be disheartening to see your children mired in student loan debt. They’ve successfully completed their degrees and are just starting out, but the financial cards are already stacked against them. More than half of parents plan to help their children repay all or some of their federal or private student loans, according to a 2019 survey from College Ave Student Loans.
You may wonder about some of the best ways for parents to pay off student loans. On one hand, you want to help and do what you can, but on the other, you have to look out for yourself and your own financial well-being, especially as you near retirement age. You’re not alone in this debate.
Luckily, there are small ways you can contribute and help your kids pay off student loans without sacrificing your own financial stability.
1. Forget the gifts — do this instead
2. Match their student loan payments
3. Help out their bottom line
4. Sign up for Upromise
5. Refer your children for gigs
6. Encourage — even cosign for — student loan refinancing
● Plus: Consider ways for parents to pay off student loans
Consider how much you spend each year on Christmas gifts, birthdays and other special occasions. While everyone loves gifts, many student loan borrowers probably prefer to have that money you spent go toward their student loan payments instead.
Rather than giving cash, you can typically become an authorized payer on your child’s student debt through their loan servicer. That way, you can go directly to the source and make payments.
An alternative method is to help your child with student loan payments using Gift of College gift cards.
The payment amount doesn’t have to be a lot. Let’s say you typically spend $20 on a gift. Instead of buying something your children may not need or even like, you can help them financially by putting that $20 toward their student loans.
That money could eventually lower their outstanding balance by thousands of dollars over time. You don’t have to wait until your child graduates to chip in. Parents can start making small contributions while the student is still in school. In-school loan payments can make a big dent in debt.
|Ways for parents to pay off student loans: Keep taxes in mind|
|● If you contribute more than $15,000 to your child’s education debt in any one year in 2018 through 2021, you may need to fork over a gift tax to the IRS.|
● Tuition is excluded from this provision, but student loan payments are not, as of November 2020.
If you want to support your kids year-round, rather than putting money toward loans once or twice a year for holidays, consider matching your child’s student loan payments.
By matching their payments, you can motivate them to get out of debt even sooner and help make significant financial progress. You also can set up automatic payments to send money straight from your bank account to the loan servicer on a regular basis.
“If parents can afford to double down on payments with their children at least every other month, it’s extremely helpful,” said Tonya Rapley, founder of the personal finance site My Fab Finance and the Banish the Balance Challenge, which helps people get out of debt.
“By doubling down, I mean matching their payment,” Rapley said. “So instead of a $400 payment, they are making payments of $800 at least six times a year. This nudge can significantly speed up the repayment process.”
You and your child could alternate payments twice a month, as bi-weekly student loan payments can be especially impactful to cut down on interest charges.
To gauge the significance of your help, check out our student loan prepayment calculator:
Recent college graduates reported that their education debt caused them to give up traveling (44%) and going out with friends (30%), among other activities, according to our 2019 financial milestones survey.
Instead of helping out directly with student loan payments, you can contribute in other small, yet effective, ways to boost your kids’ bottom line. This frees up some cash, which they can then put toward their student loans.
Consider the following ways for parents to pay off student loans — by paying for other expenses:
- Getting them a gift card to a grocery store
- Helping them buy toiletries
- Purchasing new clothes they need
- Paying their medical bills
- Covering regular expenses, like cellphone bills or utilities
- Treating them to dinner and a movie
A small gesture can go a long way. Buying necessities or treating your children to an occasional night out can help them get what they need while they focus on their debt repayment. It can also help them stave off debt fatigue.
|Can parents pay off student loans for their children?|
|● Practically, yes, any parent (or anyone) can informally make student loan payments on their borrower’s behalf. If you plan to make recurring payments, you could even ask your child’s loan servicer to become an authorized user on the account — this way, you can log in and make payments at your convenience.|
● Realistically, however, paying off student loans for your son or daughter might not be in your family’s best interest. If your finances are on shaky ground — perhaps you’re behind on retirement saving goals, for instance — you could be better off encouraging your child in their repayment without opening your pocketbook. You could help them evaluate income-driven repayment (IDR) plans to keep their federal loan payments low, for example.
● Remember, there are many helpful ways for parents to pay off student loans without making payments directly (see Nos. 4, 5 and 6).
One way you can make money from your day-to-day spending and help your kids pay off student loans is through Upromise.
Owned by loan provider Sallie Mae, Upromise allows you to sign up for its free rewards program by linking your credit and/or debit card. You’ll earn cash back on various purchases, including travel, restaurants, groceries and online shopping. You can either cash out your rewards by transferring to your account or use them to pay down an eligible student loan directly.
In other words, you could earn cash back for the spending that you are going to do anyway. Signing up for Upromise is a hassle-free way to help you earn more specifically to help pay off student loans for your child.
One way you can help your kids pay off student loans without spending a dime is by referring them for career opportunities or a side hustle that will help them earn extra income.
When it comes to getting gigs, it’s often about who you know, rather than what you know. As a parent, you can mine your professional and personal contacts to help your child make connections to advance their job search. When your son or daughter picks a target job or industry, you can introduce them to people you know who could be a potential employer or a mentor.
Networking will help them learn valuable communication and interview skills. And if it leads to a job, they’ll start earning income to contribute to their outstanding loans.
Another option is for your child to develop a side hustle, which is any gig outside of a traditional day job to make extra money.
Hopefully, your kids have steady employment, but even if they don’t, having a gig on the side can be helpful. They can consider jobs like freelance writing, design services, pet sitting, house cleaning, landscaping and more. You may be able to refer your child to friends, neighbors or coworkers who need these services.
Of course, speak to your kids first before recommending them for something and make sure you are both on the same page. Once you both have an understanding of what you and they are willing to do, you can refer them to potential employers or side hustles (or both) that can help them earn more money and pay off student loans faster.
If your college grad needs help with corralling the high interest rates or monthly payments on their private loans, student loan refinancing could be the ticket. Refinancing private and/or federal student loans with a bank, credit union or online lender also consolidates the loans into one new loan, making for a simpler repayment.
To qualify for refinancing, however, your child might need help. Refinancing companies often require borrowers to have stable income and strong credit. Without one or both, a cosigner like you could make the difference.
By cosigning a student loan refinancing application, however, you agree to put your own credit on the line. You’ll become as legally responsible for repayment as the primary borrower.
Weigh that risk — plus the fallout of refinancing federal loans — when discussing this option with your family. After all, refinancing is irreversible and, though it’s a no-brainer solution for high-interest private loans, it would strip federal loans of safeguards like IDR.
If you’re one of the many parents who plan to help their kids pay off some or all of their student loans, there are a variety of ways you can contribute from a monetary standpoint and otherwise.
Of course, you want to keep your own financial progress on track first. Using these tips, you can continue to support yourself while helping your kids pay off their student loan debt. Just be sure to never put your own financial life in jeopardy to help your children, as they still have many working years ahead of them while you need to plan for your hard-earned retirement.
Andrew Pentis and Alli Romano contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.89% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 6.84%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.91% – 5.25%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.53%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.15% – 4.42%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|2.00% – 5.63%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 May 1, 2021.
2 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 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% 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 October 26, 2020, 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 10/26/2020. 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 [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 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.
3 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.
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.
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 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
6 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 2.15%-4.42% 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.
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 January 4, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
8 Important Disclosures for Nelnet.
Checking your rate results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score.
Interest rate reduction of .25% for automatically withdrawn payments from any designated bank account (“auto debit discount”). Auto debit discount applies when full payments (including both principal and interest) are automatically drafted from a bank account. The auto debit discount will continue to apply during periods of approved forbearance or deferment if the auto debit discount was in effect at the time of receiving the forbearance or deferment. Auto debit discount will remain on the account unless (1) the automatic deduction of payments is canceled or (2) there are three consecutive automatic deductions returned for insufficient funds at any time during the term of the loan.
Request for the cosigner to be released can be made by the borrower after 24 consecutive, on-time payments (not later than 15 days after the due date) of principal and interest have been made. Borrowers in deferment or forbearance must make 24 consecutive, on-time payments after re-entering repayment to qualify for the release. The borrower must be current on their payments at the time of the cosigner release request and show the ability to assume full responsibility of the loan(s) by meeting certain credit criteria on their own at the time of the request, including, but not limited to, being a U.S. citizen or having permanent residency in the United States, being the age of majority in their permanent state of residency, providing sufficient proof of income, and having no student loans in default.
Hardship forbearance allows you to temporarily suspend payments on your loan(s) while you are experiencing financial hardship. It is offered in increments of two or three months, with a maximum of 12 months available, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. If your loan(s) are in good standing at the time of your request, you will be eligible for forbearance in increments of two monthly payments. If, at the time of your initial request, your loan(s) are considered past-due, you will be eligible for forbearance in increments of three monthly payments. Future increments of forbearance, up to a life-time maximum of 12 months, may be requested upon the completion of making a certain number of principal and interest payments. During the two- or three-month forbearance period, you will not be required to make payments; however, any unpaid interest will continue to accrue and will be capitalized (added) onto your principal balance at the end of the forbearance period. You may continue making payments in any amount without penalty during the forbearance period. Your loan repayment term will be extended by the number of months in the forbearance period.
Refinance Loan Eligibility: You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number, and be the legal age to enter into binding contracts in your permanent state/territory of residency, or be at least 17 years of age and apply with a cosigner who is at least the age of majority in their state/territory. Non-residents can apply with an eligible cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number. The student loans you refinance must be in their grace or repayment period, and you can no longer be enrolled in school on a half-time or more basis. You must have at least $5,000 in student loans to refinance. You, or your eligible cosigner, must have an annual income of at least $36,000. Approval subject to credit review. Other credit criteria may apply.
Refinance Loan Limits:
Loan Refinancing Risks: Federal student loans include benefits that may not be offered with private student loans. Carefully review any potential benefits that may be lost by refinancing federal and private education loans, such as the loss of any remaining grace periods. To learn more about what to take into consideration when refinancing federal student loans with private education loans, click here
Selecting ‘Get Started’ results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score.
Fixed interest rates range from 2.99% APR (with auto debit discount) to 6.25% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. The fixed interest rate will remain the same for the life of the loan.
Variable interest rates range from 2.00% APR (with auto debit discount) to 5.63% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. Variable rates may increase after consummation. The variable interest rate is equal to the One-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (“One-Month LIBOR”) plus a margin. The One-Month LIBOR in effect for each monthly period (from the first day of the month through and including the last day of the same month) will be the highest One-Month LIBOR published in The Wall Street Journal “Money Rates” table on the twenty-fifth (25th) day (or if such day is not a business day, the next business day thereafter) of the month immediately preceding such calendar month. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for a variable interest rate loan will change monthly on the first day of each month if the One-Month LIBOR index changes. This may result in higher monthly payments. The current One-Month LIBOR index is 0.15% as of 5/4/2021.
The lowest interest rate for each loan type requires automatically withdrawn (“auto debit”) payments, a five-year repayment term, and the borrower making immediate principal and interest payments. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rate. The interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) may be higher depending upon (1) the credit history of the borrower and, if applicable, the cosigner, (2) the repayment option and loan term selected, (3) the loan type selected, and (4) the highest level of education attained. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate qualified for within the stated range.
*Checking your rate results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score. **Your actual savings may vary based on interest rates, outstanding balances, remaining repayment terms, and other factors.