Student loan forgiveness is here. But not for everyone (like people earning over $125,000, and private student loan holders). And it’s only taking care of $10,000 worth of student loans, or up to $20,000 if you had federal Pell Grants. And, even with the student loan pause extended through the end of 2022, the debt can make you feel like you’re drowning. But there are a few things you can do to shave your debt down.
Start paying early.
If you’re a student, making payments before graduation is a great way to start cutting down your student loan debt. Or you can start paying before your six-month grace period ends. Because the interest will add up fast. And the quicker you pay off your student debt, the more you save.
Get into public service.
If your employer is a branch of the gov or a nonprofit, you might qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Think: police officers, nurses, or social workers. To qualify, you’ll have to be a full-time employee. And you’ll need to make 120 qualifying payments before forgiveness kicks in.
But the program can sometimes get a little hairy. If you don’t have a direct loan, you may have to consolidate your debt before your loans are forgiven.And some public service employees have been denied. The gov is working on fixing that and asking everyone to apply for reconsideration at studentaid.gov.
Make an income-driven repayment plan.
Income-driven repayment plans determine student loan payments based on your net income.Sounds good, right? But be sure your interest amount isn’t more than your payment amount. Otherwise, this type of repayment plan could land you in more debt. Psst…if your loan is in default, you wouldn’t be eligible for this plan. If you’re caught up on your loan payments, you can expect to pay around 10% of your income.
Pay a little extra.
Paying more (think: tax refund) is another way to bring your student debt down. Because interest. Even an extra $50 per month adds up to an additional $600 per year toward your loan. Makes a big difference when you’re dealing with a 5% interest rate.
Open to a life abroad, and helping communities along the way? The Peace Corps may be worth exploring.You’d get a cost of living stipend while you’re in service, plus 15-70% cancellation on your Perkins Loan. Psst…if international living isn’t your thing, there’s always AmeriCorps. It offers a similar deal.
Make a move.
Some places will help with your student loan debt if you move there. Hello, Kansas and Maine. The amounts vary depending on the location though, so read up on the details before you decide to relocate.
Student loan debt forgiveness may not take care of every dollar of your loans. If that’s the case for you, consider other steps you can take to lower the amount you owe.
Updated Aug. 24 to include President Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan.
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