Watch out for scams. We will NEVER ask you for your login info or one-time passcode.

Register Now
Download the App

Paying off student loan debt

Getting a higher education can open doors to amazing opportunities. It can also open you up to a financial burden: student loan debt.

Avoiding or reducing loans before you enroll is a smart step, but student debt is a reality for millions of Americans. If that includes you, here are 6 action steps you can take right now.

1. Know what you owe

The first step in tackling student loans is to get a better understanding of your debt. It’s vital to know 3 things about any student loan you have:

  • How much you owe
  • Interest rate
  • Your monthly payment

You can get this information from your loan servicer, the company handling your payments. If you aren’t sure who your servicer is, use the Federal Student Aid website to identify and contact them.

2. Create or update your spending plan

A spending plan is an essential tool for managing school debt. Write out your monthly income and expenses, including your student loan payments. Once you have an accurate picture of your finances, use it to guide your spending.

  • Track every dollar you spend. This gives you an ability to adjust your spending plan from month to month.
  • Prioritize essential expenses like rent, groceries, and utilities.
  • Target discretionary spending like eating out or entertainment for ideas to save money.

The aim is to keep you on track for achieving your money goals, including paying off your student debt.

Looking for tools to help create or refine your spending plan? Check out our spending plan worksheet.

3. Explore your repayment options

Federal student loans offer several flexible repayment plans. Choosing the right one can help ease financial stress.

For example, you can ask about income-driven repayment plans, which cap your payment at a certain percentage of your income. Educate yourself on the options available to you. Then, work toward the best alternative with your loan servicer.

Loan forgiveness and assistance programs

In certain situations, loan forgiveness or assistance options may be available to you.

If you work in public service, teaching, or certain nonprofits, you may qualify for loan forgiveness. Just beware of fraudsters offering a path to debt forgiveness for a fee. It’s likely a scam. Consult the Federal Student Aid website for loan forgiveness requirements and application information.

While most loans won’t be forgiven, check if your employer can help. Some businesses offer student loan assistance as part of their benefits package.

4. Make more than the minimum payment

Maxing an extra payment is one of the best ways to pay your student loan faster. Even 1 or 2 extra payments a year can have an impact. For example, you could apply part of a bonus or tax refund to your debt. Or find extra cash through a 6-month savings challenge or no-spend month. A loan simulator can help you see how making more than the minimum payment reduces your debt.

5. Focus on your income and expenses

If your student loan payment is more than your budget can handle, take a hard look at your income and expenses. Can you boost your cash flow by starting a side hustle, asking for a raise at work, or switching jobs? You may also create breathing room in your budget by finding savings. Has a promotional rate expired that you can renegotiate? Are you paying for subscriptions you don’t need? What if you eliminated one splurge every week?  

6. Ask an expert for help

Did you know you can receive free, personalized guidance from a certified financial counselor? It's available through Numerica's partnership with GreenPath Financial Wellness. Every day, GreenPath experts help people build plans to pay off their student loans. There’s no need to face the burden alone.

Explore GreenPath’s student loan debt resources, and connect with a counselor at 855.400.3710.

What to do if you can’t pay

Life moves, and sometimes monthly loan payments become real obstacles.

If you don’t think you can make your payment, communication is key. Contact your loan servicer ASAP and explain your situation. They may have deferment or forbearance options that allow you to postpone payments. One option that may surface is extending your loan term. This could reduce your monthly payment. Keep in mind it­­ could also increase the amount of interest you pay during the life of your student loan.

Don’t stop making payments on your loans unless you have another plan in place. If you stop making payments without communicating with your loan servicer, your loans could go into collections. This has a negative impact on your credit score.

If you’re experiencing money stress right now, remember you’re not alone. Most of us face financial challenges at some point in life. Reach out. There are resources and partners available to enhance your well-being. 

Today's Rates

July 13, 2024