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Four Student Loan Repayment Strategies To Avoid

Updated November 13, 2019

According to an article published by The Wall Street Journal, 2016 graduates have set the newest record for graduating with the most student loan debt — an average of $37,172. With America’s accumulated student debt exceeding $1.2 trillion, and at least two-thirds of American graduates leaving their respective universities with some kind of debt. The article however, still remains positive, stating that new graduates should see a greater return on their educational investment, thanks to the potential to earn a higher income over their lifetime.

 

Even with this news, it is hardly a surprise that those owing tens of thousands of dollars (or more) in student loan debt are looking for various ways to pay it back faster and save a little money in the process. While a variety of helpful strategies do exist, it may be best to avoid certain repayment strategies, including the following:

 

1. Only Paying the Minimum Payment

Paying a loan’s minimum monthly payment is necessary to pay bills on time and to protect a borrower’s credit score. However, only paying the minimum payment and nothing more will be more costly in the long run because it allows more interest to accrue. Paying more than the minimum payment, even if just by a modest amount each month, is one of the easiest ways to reduce any form of debt — whether it is student loan or credit card related — and foster long-term savings.

 

Pay attention to the interest rates of all student loan debts and see which is more effective to pay off first. For the greatest money-saving potential, try to pay down student loans with higher interest rates first. A helpful way to do so is by paying more than the minimum payment or through strategies such as student loan refinancing.

 

2. Making Life-Long Payments

“Life-long” payments happen when a loan’s life (loan term) is extended to keep the monthly payment as low as possible. When borrowers first start chipping away at what is owed on a loan, the need to keep monthly payments as low as possible by extending the life of the loan is understandable. However, extending the loan’s term can be a costly option. For instance, doubling the repayment term from 10 to 20 years – and paying the minimum monthly payment (mistake #1 above) – could double the interest that a borrower will pay back over the life of a loan.

 

Instead of creating a “life-long” repayment plan, borrowers should instead consider refinancing their student loans in order to potentially qualify for a better interest rate. However, if extending the term creates a payment necessary to maintain a comfortable budget in the near term, borrowers can often offset some of the additional long-term cost by voluntarily making higher payments as their income increases.

 

3. Tapping Into Retirement Accounts to Pay Off Student Loans

Many people have a tendency to avoid thinking about their financial future, especially when other payments are due in their present. However, it is important to avoid withdrawing money invested in retirement plans to pay off student loans. Tapping into 401(k)s or other retirement plans to pay off student (or other) loans depletes money that may be needed later in life, and it also could result in reduced earnings potential of their savings or retirement accounts.

 

Instead of borrowing from or delaying contributions to retirement accounts to pay student loans, consider how refinancing student loans may create a more manageable, money-saving payment plan. Learn more about managing your 401k and paying off student debt.

 

4. Delaying or Missing Student Loan Payments

Delaying or missing payments on any type of debt — student loans, credit cards, or other financial commitments — is not a good financial decision and could impact your credit scores and future ability to borrow money. Good credit scores are important for receiving better rates on future loans, so doing everything you can to avoid credit score setbacks is essential. To remain in good standing with current or future creditors, borrowers should pay at least their minimum monthly payments.

 

You may also want to pay more than the monthly minimum payment to improve your debt to income ratio, another factor in your credit standing. Then when the time comes to refinance student loans or apply for a loan on a major purchase, borrowers may be more likely to receive a better offer with better terms and interest rates.

 

Benefit from On-Time Payments of Loans

Financial responsibility starts with paying your student loans on time each month. Making on-time payments are important to your overall credit score and can be beneficial when you refinance your student loans, as it may lead to better interest rates and terms. When student loans are refinanced with Education Loan Finance, borrowers are able to make payments greater than the minimum (without penalty), thereby increasing the likelihood of paying off their student loans more quickly and at a lower cost.* For the greatest money-saving potential, always be diligent and disciplined with the repayment of student loans.

 

What’s the Best Way to Repay Student Loans? 

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

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Student Loan Refinancing Requirements: A Primer

Updated October 22, 2019

 

At ELFI, we successfully help many college graduates and professionals managing their education loan payments find a better solution. Our student loan refinancing program, which also offers consolidation of multiple education loans, is available to individuals with a variety of professional and financial backgrounds, but certain requirements do exist. We believe that being aware of these requirements, along with the available refinancing options, is the first step in achieving the financial benefits of student loan refinancing and consolidation. For a better idea of what to expect when refinancing your student loans, review the following factors involved in the application process:

Good to Excellent Credit

Borrowers with good to excellent credit often have more options and are commonly offered better terms than those with lower credit scores. Borrowers with higher credit scores should take advantage of their credit status by researching lenders that offer more favorable benefits to individuals who display responsible financial habits. Alternatively, borrowers with lower credit scores should work diligently to increase their credit score by routinely making on-time payments and reducing unnecessary debt. Bottom line: Your credit rating helps determine new interest rates and terms, so it is important for you to build, protect, improve, and maintain your best possible credit score.

Qualifying Loan Balance

Zero debt is the best kind of debt, and our goal is to help graduates reduce their student loan debt with a plan that fits their financial goals. To qualify for refinancing or student loan consolidation through Education Loan Finance, borrowers must have at least $15,000 in outstanding student loan debt. The maximum amount of debt that Education Loan Finance can refinance varies based on eligibility.

Financial Documents

Refinancing student loans require proof that borrowers are financially eligible and able to repay their student loans. Documentation is required during the application process, but to make the process move efficiently and smoothly, we recommend that you gather the following information as early as possible. Below are the requirements to refinance student loans with ELFI:

Billing Statements

For billing statements or payoff letters to qualify, we’ll need to see the below information.

  • Name
  • Account number
  • Current balance or payoff amounts
  • Payment mailing address

Documents Required

  • Recent Pay Stub or proof of employment from within the last 30 days
  • W-2 Form from the most recent tax year
  • Tax Returns only if self-employed
  • Government-issued Identification
  • Account Information because all borrowers are required to make payments electronically. If making payments with auto debit, you must submit billing account for setup
  • Current Billing Statement or Payoff Letter for each eligible loan

Educational Requirements

Loan Program Benefits and Options

Benefits associated with federal and privately-offered student loans are very different. Borrowers should, therefore, know exactly what they have and could be giving up — especially when it comes to federal student loans. Refinancing a federal student loan means the loan will be consolidated into a private company’s loan package, thereby potentially removing the loan from its federal ties and its protective benefits (e.g. income-based repayment or loan forgiveness). However, many private education loan providers also offer similar benefits to help their borrowers remain in good standing, so be sure to ask an advisor about such programs.

Prepare Yourself Today

While the stipulations and requirements for refinancing will vary between lending institutions, this quick checklist will help prepare you for a few of the most common requirements, as well as those that are specific to Education Loan Finance, associated with student loan refinancing. With an understanding of our program guidelines, as well as by having required financial documents ready, borrowers will find our already simple and streamlined application process that much easier. However, if you should need help, Education Loan Finance representatives are only a short phone call away.

9 Signs It’s Time to Refinance

Creative Ways to Save Money After Graduating from College

Graduating from undergraduate, graduate, or professional school is an exciting time. There are parties, celebrations, new jobs, and more. It is hard not to enjoy this time however, there may be one thing – student loan debt. Student loan payments don’t have to be a source of trepidation. There are a variety of income-driven repayment plans for federal loans, or the ability to refinance and potentially lower interest rates and better terms. Today’s graduates are in a great position to be able to focus their energy on advancing careers and enjoying new lifestyles benefitting from flexible loan payment options that align with financial goals.

Along with Education Loan Finance’s potential to help lower the cost of your student loans through refinancing, we believe there is a simple strategy. A strategy that can significantly increase the speed at which you are able to pay off student loans — saving money! When you are able to save (or make) more money, you have the ability to apply greater payment amounts to your monthly student loan payments. Paying more than the monthly, minimum payment (without penalty) enables you to reduce the life of the loan. In addition, the overall interest that could have been accrued could be decreased. The easiest way to achieve this and begin saving money involves creating a monthly budget and adopting ways to save money.

 

Where to Start Cutting Your Budget

 

Whether you have begun to pay back your student loans or not, an easy way is to create a controlled monthly budget. It’s good practice but doing so helps ensure that money dedicated to student loan payments continues to go towards them.  Keeping your weekly spending in check — through budgeting or creative money-saving strategies keeps student debt at a manageable level. If you are having trouble figuring out when and where to cut down on expenses, our list of creative, budget-friendly tips  can help:

  1. Eating Out:

    Reduce your spending on take-out meals and restaurants by cooking at home more often. Meal planning is key, map out a weekly menu and purchase all of the ingredients in advance. If you choose to indulge every so often, agree to split pricier meals with a friend or family member.

  1. Drink water:

    Drink water whenever possible. Avoiding flavored drinks at restaurants, home, and everywhere in between can lead to great savings. Think of all the health benefits associated with drinking water! Not only will laying off the sugary and alcoholic drinks help your wallet, but you will also do more for your health!

  1. Cable or Satellite Services:

    Reduce or cancel your cable or satellite services. Any subscription services that have duplicate content or are not being used regularly. Instead, stream your favorite shows and movies on your phone, laptop, or tablet through cheaper-than-cable services like Netflix or Hulu. Amazon Prime is another video-streaming option, especially if you find the other benefits useful. If you still want to watch these shows and movies from a TV, consider connecting your streaming device to your TV through an HDMI cable. Another frugal entertainment option: borrow books from the library, which can often be conveniently downloaded for free to your mobile device or tablet.

  1. Grocery and Home Shopping:

    Whether you are shopping for groceries, cleaning supplies, home decor, or health and beauty supplies, there are ways to save at the register. Start with these suggestions:

  • Talk to a manager at your favorite grocery store. See what types of discounts they offer on a weekly basis. Teacher, veteran, senior, and student discounts are some that may be commonly offered.
  • Download all of your favorite stores’ apps, or opt-in for text-based discounts. There are usually some great deals associated with each.
  • Find out if shopping secrets exist, like these ones from Target.
  • Coupon-cutting has always been an effective strategy if you have time to find the deals and like to buy in bulk.
  • Shop on Wednesdays. Wednesdays are traditionally the one day of the week where last week’s sales overlap the new week’s sales. For accuracy, check with your preferred store(s).
  • See what deals exist on a store’s online site. They are frequently different than what is offered in-store. Be sure to check sites like retailmenot.comfor applicable coupon codes. Many brick and mortar stores will price-match their competitors’ print and digital ads.
  1. Personal Grooming:

    Skip any unnecessary salon or spa maintenance, or do it yourself. If there is no easy, at-home solution, consider a local beauty school. Your stylist, beautician, or technician may just be learning the trade, but they are supervised, so the results are often just as good as pricier salons and spas.

  1. Entertainment:

    There are always creative ways to have fun while on a budget. If you like to go to the movies, try to go during matinee showings, rather than prime-time showings. If you are interested in museums and galleries, try going during free entry days. Entertainment options with little to no entry fees may also include minor league baseball games, farmer’s market events, summer events in your local city center, festivals, and more. Check your local city’s event schedule for more budget-friendly events.

  1. Clothing:

    Great ways to save money on clothing include:

  • Buy less. Most people need to buy less clothing than they currently do anyway.
  • Try to create a capsule wardrobe, where you create a small, perfectly curated wardrobe.
  • Sell unwanted, gently used clothing on eBay, Poshmark, at stores like Plato’s Closet, or check to see if someone in your city hosts a clothing consignment sale. Garage sales are also a great option. After you are finished trying to sell any clothing items, document and donate any leftover clothing to an IRS-approved nonprofit. Make sure to get documentation of the donation if you plan to write off the charitable donation in your taxes.
  • Swap clothes and shoes with friends. Whether you have an upcoming special event or just want to wear something different, talk to your similarly-sized friends to see if they would be interested in swapping or lending/borrowing clothing, shoes, and accessories.  
  1. Pinterest:

    No matter what you need to acquire, there is probably a way to make it, renovate it, or do-it-yourself on Pinterest — just make sure you have the know-how and supplies to complete the project cheaper than paying full retail prices. Great DIY options include household cleaning supplies, tasty food recipes, furniture renovations, home decor, sewing ideas, and so much more.

Reduce Unnecessary Spending

Small ticket items tend to be sneaky budget-busters. To see how much of your budget you are using on entertainment, coffee, and other unnecessary expenses look at your past months’ worth of spending. Decide what you can eliminate or reduce. Limiting spending will take some self-control, but with diligence and dedication, you will find that your existing income can be applied in greater quantities to student loans and other outstanding bills. The more you are able to apply to these each month, the faster they can be paid off, and the faster you can use your money for and towards things and experiences you truly desire.

Check out Our Simple Guide to Student Loan Refinancing