10 Ways to Speed Up the Repayment of Your Student Loan

by Martin

Student Debt Repayment

While you will walk away from college with an educational degree to last a lifetime, you will most likely also leave with more student debt than you care to consider. Moreover, while a degree may or may not help in finding you a good job, the student debt you have taken on will be there no matter what. Finding ways to supplement your income, and pay off that huge albatross around your neck, doesn’t have to mean donating blood or becoming a college lab rat.

1. Book Swap – If you’re still in school and looking for a good way to cut costs and reduce student loan amounts, consider purchasing your books used. Second hand books are typically offered at college books stores at discounted rates. If you have classmates or friends that already have the books you need, consider a trade or buy it from them at a discount.

2. A Textbook Income – Whether or not you are still a student, those books you have sitting on the shelf could earn you some big money. Many of those books could be eligible for resale at a campus bookstore. If not, consider one of the many websites where you can resell a variety of textbooks at very reasonable prices. So long as you have the ISBN number of your books, you can find out if the site will buy them and the associated price that they will pay – many of them will even cover shipping!

3. Living Arrangements – Contrary to popular belief, not everyone immediately steps from campus living into a life filled with a great new job, new car, nice apartment or condo, and a lifestyle befitting the money spent upon a college education. Consider a cheaper apartment or even moving back in with your parents for a year or two to save some cash and pay down your student loan debt. It’s not glamorous but it works.

4. Roommate Residuals – If moving back in with the parents is too drastic a step, maybe a roommate is a better option. Sharing rent, utilities, food, even transportation, can mean huge savings and quicker repayment of those student loans.

5. Graduation Gifts – While you might have big plans for those graduation checks from friends and family, it’s time to cancel the celebratory vacation and forget about that new flat-screen television. If you want to make a dent in your student loans right after graduating, put as much of your graduation gift money to use as possible. If you’ve received gifts that you don’t need such as a coffee maker, dishes, microwave or similar household item, try returning them for store credit or cash.

6. Food Conservation – Having most likely been through four or more years of college, you may also have been schooled in the art of lean eating and spending less on food. Continue the trend of food savings during the first several years out of school to help conserve money. Avoid costly dinners out, loading up on expensive treats at home, and overly indulging in the bar and club scene. Instead, use your savings to put toward extra loan payments.

7. Extra Payments – There is no rule that says you must only make the minimum student loan payment you owe each month. Making an extra payment or two each year can make a big difference in the time and money it takes to repay your loans.

8. Debt Swap – While student loan types vary, as do their interest rates and terms, you’re likely to find loans that defer interest and payments until graduation, sometimes even longer. Compared with most car and credit card debt, student loans typically offer interest rates that are hard to beat. It might be worthwhile to consider taking a portion of you student loan money and paying off other debt with higher interest rates first, then taking care of your student loans. This only works if your student loan interest rates are lower than that of other debt though.

9. Service Programs – AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and similar service programs offer ways to work, learn, help others, and earn money to put toward student loan repayment. If you are having difficulty finding a full-time job after graduation but are still burdened with student loans, you might want to consider such work.

10. Work-study Programs – Doing work for, and through your college or university is a great way to reduce student loans. Not only do many of the jobs offered through campus work-study programs keep your student loans to a minimum, they are often jobs that are relatively simple and sometimes even allow time for studying.

This was a guest post from Mark, a writer from an Australian credit card comparison website.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Financial Samurai

Question for you guys. What if you had $30K in student debt at 2.6%, but had much more than that saved in the bank earning anywhere from 2%-4.2%. What would you guys do? Chip away at it every year to accelerate payment? Or, just pay it off at one go?

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2 Studenomist

@FS I don’t exactly have the “perfect” answer for your question. For me personally debt is a psychological issue. I do not like to be indebted to anyone. I pay back all of my debts as soon as possible. Whether I owe a friend $5 for lunch or $5,000 in student loans, I do not want to carry any debt. In your example, I wouldn’t pay it off right away but I would pay it off as quickly as possible. I personally don’t want to get into the habit of investing money that isn’t mine.

What’s your take?

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3 Financial Samurai

I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Debt is not necessarily bad, as one of my guest posters wrote about last week. In this scenario there’s zero to negative carrying cost, so essentially, it’s just a matter of time before the debt gets paid off in full.

I like the “chip away” at it methodology given the low interest rate. If the rate was above 6%, that would be a different story. But, to have the flexibility to pay it off is a powerful call option. It’s just accounting really, and that translates to how people pay for homes.

It makes no difference if you put 0% down on a $1million home if you’ve got $1million in the bank, for example. Problem is, so many didn’t don’t have that level of DP, and hence our implosion.

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4 Brian

@FS – First, take your monthly payment (e.g. $150) and pay half of that every two weeks. By the end of the year you have added a month’s payment without realizing it (26 half payments = 13 whole payments vs. 12 monthly payments). This should pay off your student loan a few years early.

Second, I would take 1/4 of your savings and apply it towards the student loan. I don’t like having debt, and I have lost sleep over worrying about it. Any time I can make a big payment towards the debt it feels great. I would then spend the next year rebuilding my savings and repeat the process. Its a double whammy psychological effect: pay off debt with a big payment and save money towards a concrete goal of rebuilding savings

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5 Jesse Rosenbaum

Hindsight is always 20/20…

When I graduated form college in 2009 I had a nice little nest egg saved up of about $8,000. I graduated with about $12,000 in debt and rather than unload my life savings right away into my debt I figured I would put some of the money away in a Roth ( I put in $3,000) and keep the rest as an emergency fund. I landed my first job out of college and was earning a whopping $25,000 a year. Which believe it or not was enough to meet my minimum expenses and leave a few bucks for beers and a meal out or two on the weekends. I was at a small company and when our Managing Director was canned for an ethics violation I knew I had to start looking elsewhere. You would be astonished how fast you can burn through your money when your circumstances change but your lifestyle doesn’t. I burned through my safety net in a few months and there I was back to square one. While it was good to have the money when I needed it I am a big supporter or paying off as much of your debt as quickly as you can.

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