Maybe you’ve been dreading your first student loan payment since the first day of college. Maybe you didn’t think twice about it in all four years. Either way, this should come as good news: there are plenty of ways to save money on student loans.
The sooner you learn the various ways to cut the cost of student loan debt, the more money you can save over time. Find out which of these options work best for you.
How to save money on student loans
1. Make interest payments during the grace period
If you have any subsidized federal loans, you don’t have to worry about interest accruing during the grace period following graduation. Lucky you!
However, if you have unsubsidized federal loans, interest will begin accruing throughout the grace period. Even though you aren’t required to make student loan payments during this period, that interest gets added to your balance and rolled into the principal. This means a costly, unwelcome scenario – paying interest on interest.
In order to prevent your student loan balance from ballooning during the grace period, it’s a good idea to at least make interest payments for those six months. If you don’t know which type of loan you have, contact your student loan servicer.
2. Get on the right federal loan repayment plan
Under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan, you might end up with the highest monthly payments, but you’ll also pay off your debt faster.
If you opt for an income-driven repayment plan, on the other hand, it’ll take you 20 to 25 years to get rid of that debt. That extra 10 to 15 years of payments means you’ll end up paying more over the life of your loans due to the extra interest. When possible, choose the shortest repayment period possible to save money.
Of course, the last thing you want to do is struggle your way through a 10-year plan that only lands you in default. If you’re having trouble keeping up with your payments, or suspect you will, apply for an income-driven repayment plan.
3. Think twice before consolidating
Borrowers sometimes mistakenly believe that consolidating their loans will help save money On the contrary, consolidation results in a weighted average of your previous loans’ interest rates, plus an extra percentage on top.
Not to mention, consolidation usually ends up putting you on a longer repayment timeline. And if you consolidate your federal loans with a private company, you give up federal protections and benefits you might need later, including income-driven repayment plans, deferment, forbearance, and loan forgiveness.
If you’re looking to save money on student loans, refinancing at a lower interest rate is a far more attractive prospect. The only exception would be if the lower interest rate comes with a longer loan term that ends up costing you more over the life of the loan. And again, federal benefits are forfeited by refinancing with a private lender.
4. Set up automatic payments
Why risk forgetting to make payments when you can have them deducted from your checking account automatically? You’ll save money on late fees. Plus, most loan servicers offer a 0.25% interest rate reduction when you sign up for auto-pay, which could add up to hundreds of dollars in savings over the life of your loans.
5. Treat deferment and forbearance as a last resort
If you’re struggling to make your federal student loan payments, postponing them for a while may sound like sweet relief. What a great way to give yourself some breathing room, increase your income, and start paying on your loans when you’re better positioned to do so.
The problem is interest. All that time you’re not making payments, interest is continuing to accrue on unsubsidized loans in deferment – and on any loan in forbearance. Plus, there is always the chance you won’t be better off financially when the loans come due again, this time with bigger balances even more difficult to pay down.
6. Claim the tax deduction for interest paid on your loans
Each year, you should receive Form 1098-E from your student loan servicer(s), which shows you know how much you paid in interest.
You may be able to deduct up to $2,500 in interest every tax year, which lowers your taxable income and saves you a bit of money at tax time. You can even claim the deduction if someone else made payments on your behalf (like your parents) as long as the loans are in your name.
7. Pay off your student loans early
You’re probably wondering why you would want to make bigger payments than necessary. Hear us out – making more than your minimum payments every month means cutting down your repayment time and saving thousands of dollars in interest.
However, if you decide you want to send in extra payments, consider the following:
- Decide whether you want to focus on your lowest-interest loan first (debt snowball) or your highest-interest loan (debt avalanche).
- Make sure your lender knows how you want your extra payments applied. If you don’t tell them, they’ll decide for you.
- Confirm that your extra payments are being applied correctly.
Don’t rush it, though. There’s nothing wrong with making your minimums for at least a few months to be sure you’re on solid financial footing.
This is the beginning of a long process. It won’t always be easy, but it doesn’t always have to be difficult either. If you choose to be strategic about how you handle student loan payments, you can save a significant amount of money and focus on your other financial goals that much sooner.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|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 3.36% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.82% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.41% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% 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 April 17, 2019, 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 04/17/2019. 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@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student 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 SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed 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.
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.
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.
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 2.45% effective May 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.41% – 6.99%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.41% – 7.89%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.43% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.38% – 6.81%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.41% – 8.19%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.60% – 9.60%6||Undergrad & Graduate|