Student Loan Payment Strategies

Develop a Plan to Get Ahead of Student Loans


As we acknowledge the wonder of autumn and look forward to the crisp, cool days, recent college graduates should also be turning their thoughts towards creating a repayment plan for their student loans. It seems like it was just yesterday that this money was borrowed, and now it is time to start paying it back, even though students may still be caught up in personal post-graduation excitement and individual job searches.

Here are a few strategies that might make the repayment process a little easier:

  • Get organized: Gather all your student loan documentation, find out who your lenders are, and learn about your payment options.
  • Consider consolidation: If you have a lot of student loans that might make it difficult to keep track of payment schedules, it can be helpful to consolidate those loans into one. Federal student loans can be consolidated with each other through a Direct Consolidation Loan so that there is only one payment to be made each month. Check with private lenders to learn about consolidation opportunities there as well.
  • Look at payment options: Federal student loans have several payment options available. Be sure to choose the one that is best for your individual financial situation.
  • Look for helpful employers: If you are still looking for a job, it might be helpful to look for one that offers a student loan repayment reimbursement. This type of incentive is sometimes available when working for government agencies or other, larger employers.
  • Look for a part-time job: If you are already working but using that money for daily living expenses, consider finding a part-time job and using the income from that to make payments on your student loan bills.
  • Make it easy on yourself: Your employer may be able to help you set up a payroll allotment that will funnel funds directly to a separate student loan repayment account for you. Then set that account up to make payments automatically so you won’t incur late fees or extra charges for missed payments.
  • Delay retirement savings a little: Some employers may offer a retirement plan where they match funds you contribute, but it may make more sense for you to direct your funds towards student loan repayment for a year or two to start reducing the interest amount on your loans.
  • Reconsider your living arrangements: Unless you got married right out of college, it might not make sense for you to rush out and get an apartment on your own. Consider living with your parents for a specified period of time, if they are open to it, so you can make larger student loan payments. If you do get an apartment, try to find a roommate who can help minimize your expenses.
  • : Look for options that help you live as frugally as possible in the short-term. Living cheaply now could save you a lot of money in the long-run. Use public transportation, stay home more often, find free or low-cost entertainment, and use coupons whenever possible.

It can feel a little overwhelming, but you are now on the road to becoming an independent adult who will be making many financial decisions over the course of your life. Take responsibility for your student loan payments now, and develop a plan that will help you pay them back in the shortest time possible so they won’t be hanging over your head forever.

Then use the strategies you have learned to help you make other financial choices in your life.