Whether you recently went back to school yourself, or have a college graduate in your family, student loan payments are coming. Graduates are given a six-month grace period before they’re required to make payments, so November means the bills are due.
In preparation for student loan season, here is a list of the biggest student loan mistakes parents and students make, and how you can avoid them for a successful repayment.
- Just Paying The Minimum – The minimum payment is just that, the absolute minimum you have to pay. If you only pay the minimum, you’ll accrue so much interest that you will may end up paying double at the end. Even paying $100 above the minimum each month can save you thousands of dollars. You can use online student loan payment calculators to give you a better idea of how much above your minimum you should pay.
- Skipping Loan Forgiveness – The Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness federal programs are excellent services for those that qualify. These programs can forgive most or even all of your debt; so don’t skip out on seeing if you qualify. Visit the Federal Student Aid website to see if you qualify.
- Only Paying 12 Times A Year – Instead of making 12 monthly payments a year, add a few extra payments here there when you can. These extra payments will help you pay off your debt faster, and save you on interest.
- Borrowing Too Much – Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to borrow the full amount you’re approved for. While it may seem that any extra money is helpful when you or your child is in school, using loans to pay for more than education costs can hike up your loans to potentially unmanageable amounts. If you can, try getting a part time job to cover living expenses.
- Avoiding Lump Sum Payments – Its easy to stick to your monthly payment plan, but its always better to pay off your student loans sooner rather than later. If you get a salary bonus or a hefty tax refund, funnel the money directly into your student loans. Large lump sum payments can save you thousands on interest.
- Not Refinancing – Your finances change year to year, so your loan plan should too. You can lower your interest rate on your student loans when you refinance, and make it easer to pay them off faster. Every lender has different eligibility requirements for refinancing, so investigate with online guides like this one.
- Shopping Around For Refinancing – Similarly, you need to do your research when you refinance. Interest rates and plans vary greatly between lenders, so make sure you’re clear on what the rates are for each refinance option so you make the most of your money.
- Only Pay After Graduation – If you have the means, it can be very helpful to make small payments on your loans before you graduate. Payments aren’t required, but any headway you can make could mean the difference of thousands of dollars in interest.
Avoid these common student loan mistakes, and you and your student will have an easy and financially sound loan repayment process.
Do you have any student loan repayment tricks or tips? Comment below. Look out for more finance articles for guidance on similar topics.