It took me 13 years to pay off my Student Loan. The day I paid it off was memorable and a personal accomplishment. There are many horror stories out there about Student loan debt. The average debt is $35,000 ($100,000 for some) which is daunting for a recent college grad. I’m here to give you some encouragement, advice and to show you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Slow and steady
My previous post mentioned that a student loan payment is considered an essential monthly expense. You do not want to make late payments or miss payments because it will effect you. In the beginning I was a little lax in paying. I didn’t always pay on-time or pay the minimum. I figured that making any payment was good enough. Well, that may be technically true because I didn’t default, it hurt me long-term because the penalties and interest piled up. Your initial payments will be mostly going towards the interest of the loan. It will take a few years to put a dent in the principal but don’t fret, that is normal. I think it took me about 6 years to see a substantial difference. Just keep making consistent and on-time payments.
There are several ways to pay off your loan. Payments could be based on a percentage of your salary, fixed payments or variable payments. The Standard Repayment Plan requires you to finish the loan with 10 years. I would be wary of that because the payments will be high throughout the duration of the loan. I would opt for the Income Contingent Plan because the Borrower is able to change the monthly payment if you request one. I was able to adjust my monthly payment several times because it was too high. I felt that a 3-5% increase was fine but a 10% increase was too much. Remember, the Borrower does want to get their money back and it does not benefit them for you to default. Keep that in mind in case you think your payments are too high. Tell them that you can afford X and see what they say.
No one likes to pay interest but there is a tax benefit when paying your student loan. You are able to deduct the interest paid in a Fiscal Year up to $2,500. In 2015 if you paid $1,800 in student loan interest, you can deduct that amount when you file your income taxes. Over time this benefit will decrease because you will be paying less interest each year. This deduction really helped me when I was younger because I was able to save it.
Other Helpful Info
I would recommend consolidating your loans because it just requires one payment a month. There is no need to confuse the Due Date for multiple loans. Check to see if your loan has a grace period. Sometimes you do not have to make a payment for 3 to 12 months after graduation. Look into making extra payments to reduce the interest. I started doing this the last 3 years of my loan and I wish I started doing it earlier.
- Be patient and know that it will be paid off in time
- Pay the monthly payment on-time
- Select the best Repayment Plan that works for you
- Take advantage of the Interest Deduction when filing your taxes
- Make extra payments
Any questions, thoughts or feedback?
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