15. Get Additional Student Loan Debt Assistance
Paying off student loans is a large undertaking and sometimes, no matter how hard you try to stay on top of this financial burden, life gets in the way. If your income is simply too low to pay off your student loans or you were recently laid off, you can immediately reach out for help with your federal loans through income-driven plans.
The current income-driven federal student loan repayment plans include:
- Income Contingent Repayment Plan
- Income-Based Repayment Plan
- Pay as You Earn Plan
- Revised Pay as You Earn Plan
Depending on your income and the program, your payments could be reduced to between 10 percent and 20 percent of your discretionary income. Bear in mind that reduced payments might mean it’ll take 20 to 25 years to pay off your loan, although outstanding balances at the end of your repayment term could qualify for loan forgiveness.
The more you know about your budget, debt and repayment options, the more equipped you’ll be to make smart financial decisions. Mihalic suggested that students educate themselves about student loans, the dangers of debt, and options for paying for higher education.
“We’re asking students these days to spend a lot of money on something they don’t know anything about,” he said. “I think the overall message is there are less risky ways to go about this.”
Brown believes that the key to paying off student loans sooner is to take action now. “The biggest thing would be to get started,” she said.
“Try paying off your smallest loans first because having that taste of success motivates you,” Brown said. She also suggested sticking with your financial plan and remembering that your sacrifices are temporary. “You have so much more freedom once you are debt-free.”
Up Next: How Student Loan Consolidation Works
Lou Carlozo, Ashley Redmond, Paul Sisolak and Tushar Mathur contributed to the reporting for this article.