Whether you took out thousands of dollars in student loans to finance a high earning degree or mistakenly looked at student loans as “free” money, we can all agree on one thing: student loan debt is no joke.
With the average college graduate entering the work force with around $30,000 in student debt, it feels like you’re beginning your adult life with a pile of bricks on your shoulders.
The fact of the matter is that wallowing in student debt pity will get you nowhere. If you make the right moves now you can conquer your student loan debt instead of letting it conquer you.
Here are some things to try.
Make an Effort to Understand Your Loans
Before you do anything else you really need to make an effort to understand your loans. You won’t be able to come up with an effective solution unless you know what you’re dealing with.
Different types of loans have different terms and payment options. Spend some time reviewing your loans so that you know what you’re up against and can make intelligent choices going forward.
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Continue Living on a College Budget
You made it through college living on Ramen Noodles, taking advantage of free entertainment, and living on next to nothing. Until your student loans are paid back it will be a good idea to keep doing the same.
By keeping your expenses low over the next couple of years you’ll be able to put more of your hard earned money toward your debt. While this does take a lot of sacrifice it will be well worth it once the loans are paid back.
Check on Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Certain professions, usually those in the public service sector, may offer student loan forgiveness plans which will help you pay back your debt.
To qualify for these programs you will often have to meet certain criteria, such as signing an employment contract for a certain period of time or moving to a more rural area. Here’s a list of student loan forgiveness programs by state you can check out. If one is offered for your field it’s smart to view the requirements and take advantage if the job is suited to you.
Refinance or Consolidate to a Lower Interest Rate
If you have private loans with high interest rates one of the absolute easiest ways for you to lower the amount of money you pay back is through refinancing.
Refinancing to a lower rate will instantly lower your monthly payments which will allow you to (hopefully) send in extra principal each month and payoff your loans faster. Luckily, there are a ton of student loan refinancing companies willing to help.
Create a Customized Payback Plan
Sure, there are minimum payments you’ll need to meet on your debt each month but that doesn’t mean you need to stop there. You can use an app like Ready For Zero to make a customized financial plan and track your debt.
Having this app available to you at all times can greatly up the motivation factor of ridding yourself of loans.
Avoid All Other Debt
If you’re serious about conquering your student loan debt you should be equally as serious as avoiding all other types of debt. Don’t add to the mountain.
Save cash for your purchases, make well informed financial decisions, and keep yourself from incurring further debt.
Earn More Money
And last but not least, the one thing that will catapult you to debt freedom even quicker is earning extra money.
Earning extra money doesn’t mean you need to work 80 hours per week at your new day job. While that’s certainly an option you could also start a side business that you truly enjoy or even use your new degree to start some sort of a freelance business.
The more extra money you earn the more you’ll have to put toward your loans.
Conquer Your Debt
You worked hard to get your degree and now you’re going to need to work even harder to rid yourself of student loan debt. With some basic financial knowledge, inexpensive living, and a whole lot of sacrifice you can pay your loans off in record time.
It won’t be easy but it will be completely worth it.
Robert Farrington is America’s Student Loan Debt Expert and the founder of The College Investor. He works to help people get out of student loan debt and start investing in their futures.