Starting life after college with $37,172 in debt is a huge burden, but that’s the average student loan owed by recent graduates in the class of 2016. Fall behind on making payments, and you could damage your finances for years to come. Defaulting on the loan comes when you are 270 days late. Before you reach that moment, learn about the creative ways you can tackle your student loan debt. Here are six ways to reduce your bill.
Enroll in an income-driven repayment plan.
Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans will lower monthly payments on qualifying federal loans to 10 percent to 20 percent of your discretionary income until they are forgiven. Forgiveness on your remaining qualifying student loan balance is possible if you make the income-based payments in full and on time each month.
Look to your employer for help.
Some major companies make helping with student loan repayment part of their employee benefits package. Talk with your Human Resources department to find out if your employer has joined companies such as Fidelity, PwC, Aetna, and Staples in offering assistance.
Consider a career move.
if you work in a qualifying job in education, law, nonprofit, or government, your balance may be forgiven. You’ll have to make 10 years of on-time payments through a federal income-driven repayment plan. Do your homework and carefully research details of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Set up automatic payments.
Many lenders will give you a small 0.25 to 0.5 percent deduction on your interest rate if you agree to automatic billing. Enrolling in an automatic billing program is the easiest way to make sure you never miss a payment.
Pay more than the minimum.
Sticking to a basic 20-year or 30-year payoff plan will cost you way more than the amount you borrowed. Make extra payments when you can to help pay the debt off faster.
Refinance to decrease interest payments.
Shopping around for a better interest rate can save you thousands of dollars. If you have multiple student loans, consolidating them can reduce your monthly payment and solve the headaches that come with juggling multiple loans.
The fastest way to pay off student loans is to increase your income, reduce your cost of living, and make extra payments. There are no easy solutions to paying off student loans, but finding a way is worth your time and trouble. It’s nearly impossible to get away from student loan payments by declaring bankruptcy, and lenders can garnish your wages.
Read More: Secrets to Paying Off Student Loans