Finance Friday

About 3 years after I graduated from college, I paid off over $26,000 of my student loan debt. The interest on my unsubsidized loans began to add-up 6 months after I graduated from college. Although the loans were only receiving about 3.5% in interest, I had accumulated an additional $600 of debt within the first year. After realizing that my debt was going to accumulate faster than I thought, I made a plan to get rid of it as soon as possible. Here is how I did it.

Develop An Action Plan

1. First I monitored my loans.

I accessed my online account so I would be able to monitor exactly how much I owed when my loans were due, and how much interest my loan accrued.

2. Contacted my loan-providers with my financial situation.

Immediately out of college, I went through periods of unemployment and part-time employment. Realizing that I would not be able to pay consistently each month, I logged into my student loan account and applied for forbearance. By putting my loans into forbearance, which means the loans were still accruing interest, but I would not be penalized for a missed payment. The forbearance option gave me a chance to pay what I could on them without having a monthly due date weighing over my shoulders. 

3. Refinanced and consolidated my student loans. 

Next, I found a reputable company that was willing to give me a really low-interest rate and consolidate my student loans so all of my loans would be in one place so I could manage them easier.

4. Applied for a loan forgiveness program.

A couple of months out of college I joined AmeriCorps NCCC (NCCC), which helped me gain work experience and put some money on my student loans. What was great about NCCC is that it allowed me to work part-time, learn about many different types of non-profit jobs, receive a living stipend, paid room and board, paid food and health insurance expenses, money toward my student loans, and they even paid the loan interest that accrued while I was employed by them.

5. Paid more than the amount due.

After working for NCCC, I worked a full-time job and tried to put lump sums of money on my student loans when I could. As a result, the lender calculated the amounts that I paid and changed my due date to two years in the future. I continued to pay all that I could without ever being late on a payment. Interest accrued during this time, but because the balance was becoming less and less it helped motivate me to pay my loans off quicker.

6. Itemized Deductions.

I was also able to write-off the student loan interest that I paid when I itemized deductions on my Federal Taxes. Thus, when I received my small refunds, I placed most of the money on my student loans.

Debt Paid In Full

With these 6 steps, I paid off over $26,000 worth of student loan debt in about 3 years. If you make a plan and look into the resources available to you, your own student loan debt will become a credit score booster. The sense of relief I felt knowing that all of my debt was PAID IN FULL was almost as joyful as giving birth to my daughters.

Reader question

If you have student loan debt. What is the biggest hurdle that you face trying to pay them off?