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Tips for Starting Your Student Loan Repayment Journey

December 4, 2019

Once you graduate from college, leave college, or drop below half-time enrollment, it’s time to start thinking about when your student loan repayment period kicks in. Understanding the repayment process for your student loans is very important for a number of reasons – for one, if you don’t pay, your interest will accrue. Second, if you don’t pay, it will affect your credit score, which can hinder your ability to buy a home, buy a car, qualify for credit cards, take out a personal loan, or refinance your student loans.

 

If you graduated this past spring, your student loan repayment period will likely start around this time of year (if they haven’t kicked in already). Follow these tips to master student loan repayment and get yourself to a strong financial start after college.

 

Know How to Access Your Loan Information

A good first step is to acquire your loan information. This can typically be accessed via an online login. Monitoring your loan information will be essential during the course of repayment. If you took out Federal Student Loans, you can likely access your info at https://myfedloan.org/. If you took out private student loans, check with your lender for how to access your information. Tracking your loans will give you a gage on the status of each loan, the balance you owe, as well as interest rates for each loan. By understanding the status of your loans, you can make more informed decisions about how you want to prioritize repayment, what type of repayment plan you want to choose, or even whether you want to consolidate or refinance your student loans. 

 

Know When Your Payments Start

Immediately following graduation, you’ll likely have a grace period, or a period of time before your first payment is due. This can vary depending on the type of loan you have, and they can be different for each loan. Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal loans have a six-month grace period. Perkins loans have a nine-month grace period. There is no grace period for PLUS loans; however, if you are a graduate or professional student PLUS borrower, you do not have to make any payments while you are enrolled at least half time and (for Direct PLUS loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2008) for an additional 6 months after you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment. Private student loans will have differing grace periods so contact your loan servicer for more details. Knowing when your loan will be due is imperative to starting off on the right foot when it comes to your student loans.

 

Weigh Repayment Options

When you take out federal student loans and your grace period is complete, you will automatically enter the Standard Repayment Plan. This plan allows you to pay off your debt within 10 years, with the monthly payment remaining the same over the life of the loan. If standard repayment doesn’t work for your budget, you may want to consider some other options, or perhaps even refinance your student loans. The federal student loan program offers the following Income-Based Repayment plans: 

  • Graduated Repayment Plan – Gives you a smaller payment amount in the beginning and gradually increases the payment amount every two years.
  • Extended Repayment Plan – Allows you to pay the least possible amount per month for 10 to 25 years.
  • Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan or REPAYE Plan – Bases the monthly payment on you (and spouse’s) adjusted gross income, family size, and state of residence.
  • Pay As You Earn or PAYE – Monthly payments are based on your adjusted gross income and family size. You must be experiencing a financial hardship to qualify. You must also be considered a “new borrower” as of 10/1/2007 or after, or be someone who received an eligible Direct Loan disbursement on 10/1/2011 or after.
  • Income-Based Repayment or IBR – Monthly payments based on your adjusted gross income and family size. Must be experiencing a financial hardship to qualify.
  • Income-Contingent Repayment or ICR – Based on your monthly adjusted gross income and family size. Typically chosen if an individual can’t qualify for the Pay As You Earn Plan or Income-Based Repayment.Any changes to your income or your spouse’s income will affect your student loan payment. For example, if your salary increases, your student loan payment will as well. If you are married, both your income and your partner’s income are combined. Two combined incomes will increase your total income, likely increasing your monthly payment. 

 

Keep in mind that each repayment option will have positives, negatives, as well as eligibility requirements. Research each option before making a decision, and consider contacting your loan servicer if you have questions or need more information. 

 

Automate Your Payments (If you can)

Setting up automatic payments will make student loan repayment less of a hassle, will avoid late payments, and may even score you an interest rate reduction. Just be sure you have enough money in your account month-to-month to endure the payments without overdrawing. 

 

Make Extra Payments

When you make your monthly payment, it will first apply to any late fees you have, then it will apply to interest. After these items are covered, the remaining payment will go toward your principal loan balance (the amount you actually borrowed). By paying down the principal, you reduce the amount of interest that you pay over the life of the loan. Applying extra income by making larger payments or double payments will reduce the total amount you’ll end up paying. 

 

Reach Out for Help if Necessary

If you’re having trouble making your monthly payments, particularly on your federal student loans, contact your loan servicer. They will work with you to find a repayment plan you can manage or help determine your eligibility for deferment or forbearance. If you stop making payments without getting a deferment or forbearance, you risk your loan going into default, which can have serious consequences to your credit. 

 

Weigh Refinancing & Consolidation Options

If you have multiple student loans that are all accruing interest at different rates, you may want to consider student loan refinancing or consolidation to make repayment more manageable. The federal student loan program offers student loan consolidation, in which they combine your loans into one loan with a weighted average interest rate, rounded up to the nearest 1/8th percent. You can also consolidate your federal and/or private student loan with a private lender through the process of refinancing. Refinancing your student loans is much like consolidation, however it offers the opportunity to start new repayment terms and possibly lower your interest rate. Keep in mind that refinancing with a private lender may cause you to lose access to certain federal student loan repayment options that are listed above. 

 

Look Into Loan Forgiveness

If you work in a public service position or for a non-profit, you may want to consider the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program or another loan forgiveness program offered by the federal government. Other options exist for volunteers, military recruits, medical personnel, etc. Some state, school, and private programs also offer loan forgiveness. Check with your school or loan servicer to see if you may qualify for student loan forgiveness.

 

Earn Your Tax Benefits

If you are paying your student loans, you may be able to deduct the interest you pay on your student loans when filing your taxes. Deductions reduce your tax liability, saving you money and serving as a nice tradeoff for having to pay interest on your student loans. 

 

Repayment of student loans can be a long, difficult journey – but by taking advantage of your resources and staying determined to pay off your debt, it is manageable. If you need more information on paying back your student loans or the options that are available to you, contact your loan servicer.

 


 

Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

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Young woman reading student loan news
2020-05-22
This Week in Student Loans: May 22

Please note: Education Loan Finance does not endorse or take positions on any political matters that are mentioned. Our weekly summary is for informational purposes only and is solely intended to bring relevant news to our readers.

  This week in student loans:
what you need to know about student loan debt relief

What you need to know about debt relief on student loans

As there have obviously been some major changes in the world of student loans recent, the Washington Post covers many frequently asked questions in this article, from the details of the Heroes Act to how the new changes affect a variety of borrowers.  

Source: Washington Post

 

college's loan default rate

Why a college's student loan default rate matters

With the extended deadline for "decision day" approaching, this US News & World Report brings to light how a college's default rate, or the average portion of students who default on their student loans, should matter to students who are choosing where to attend college.  

Source: US News & World Report

 

Donors provide students with debt relief

Anonymous donors paid off $8 million in student loans for first-generation grads

According to CBS News, a group of anonymous donors contributed a total of $8 million to pay off college loans for up to 400 first-generation college students who have overcome financial hardships, from homelessness to poverty. The donors are longtime supporters of Students Rising Above (SRA), a Bay Area nonprofit.  

Source: CBS News

 

Student Loan Debt Relief

More relief could be coming for student loan borrowers

While the CARES Act has already suspended federal student loan payments through September 30, 2020, a new bill known as the HEROES Act, passed by the House last Friday, would include additional relief for borrowers with both federal and private student loans, including potentially suspending federal student loans another year through September 30, 2021.  

Source: CNBC

    That wraps things up for this week! Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or LinkedIn for more news about student loans, refinancing, and achieving financial freedom.  
 

Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

Clock representing the time it takes to pay off student loans.
2020-05-21
How Long Does it Take to Pay Off Student Loans?

If you have student loan debt, do you know what your loan term is and how long your payments are expected to last? On average, college graduates think they will have their loans paid off in six years. Is this a realistic expectation to pay off loans that quickly? Here we will show you how long it actually takes people to pay off student loans. And if you are looking for ways to pay them off faster, we have some tips for that as well.     

Loan Terms

The loan term is how long it will take you to repay the loan if you only pay the amount owed each month and do not make any additional payments. For federal student loans, the average loan term on the standard repayment plan is 10 years. However, there are options to increase the loan term up to 30 years, depending on the amount of money owed and what payment plan you choose. Increasing the loan term will cause you to pay more interest over the lifetime of the loan, but may require a smaller payment compared to the standard repayment plan.    

Average Time to Repay Undergraduate Loans

Although the standard loan term is ten years, many people take much longer than that to repay student loans. The average time it takes to repay student loans depends on what degree you obtained, mainly because of the amount of loans taken out. However, it also depends on the income you are earning. If you work in a job that is in your degree field, you may be earning the average income in the sector and be able to pay off your loans in the average amount of time. However, if you are not working in your degree field and your salary is lower than the average salary for that degree, it may take more time to pay off.
  • The average amount of student loan debt for a person who finished some college, but did not obtain a degree is $10,000. The average amount of time it takes to repay the loans is just over 17 years.  
  • For a person who obtained an Associate degree, the average amount of debt is $19,600 and on average it will take just over 18 years to pay off the loans. 
  • For college graduates that earned a Bachelor’s degree they will repay an average of $29,900 in student loan debt and will take approximately 19 years and 7 months to repay the loans. 
 

Average Time to Repay Graduate Loans

Earning a graduate degree takes more time and, of course, more money. The average amount of student loan debt for graduate degrees is $66,000. However, certain degrees require much more than the average amount of loans and, therefore, more time to pay. 
  • Medical school - The average student loan debt for medical graduates in 2019 was $223,700. Because of the high salaries doctors are able to earn after residency it can take an average of 13 years to repay the student loans. 
  • MBA - If you earn an MBA the average student loan debt is $52,600 and can take 22 years and 10 months to repay.
  • Law degree - Obtaining a J.D. may cause you to rack up the average of $134,600 in student loans and it will take an average of 18 years to repay.  
  • Dentist - To become a dentist it will cost an average of $285,184 in student loans and may take 20-25 years to pay off the debt.  
  • Veterinarians - Attending veterinary school can cost an average of $183,014 in student loans. It may take veterinarians longer to repay their student loans than traditional medical colleagues because their average income is much lower at $93,830. It can take 20-25 years to repay the loans. 
 

How to Pay Student Loans Off Early

If seeing these averages makes you panic, don’t worry! Use them as motivation to pay your loans off faster. Here are some ways to accomplish that:   

Student Loan Refinancing 

Refinancing student loans is extremely advantageous for many borrowers because it can save you money on monthly payments and in interest over the life of the loan. Refinancing can also be beneficial to shorten the length of time it takes to pay off your loans and save even more in interest costs. This can be done by obtaining a new loan with a shorter term than your current remaining loan length. Although refinancing to a shorter term length will increase your monthly payment, if you are able to afford the new payment it can be a great financial move for your future. You will be paying your loans off sooner and saving more in interest.     For example:  If you have $30,000 in student loans with a standard 10 year repayment plan and 7% interest rate, your payment would be $348 per month. If you refinance to a 7 year loan and qualify for a 6.48% interest rate, your payment would only increase by $62.00 per month and your loans would be paid off 3 years earlier. You would also save $4,403 in interest!   If you did not want to increase your monthly payment you could still utilize the benefits of refinancing by keeping the same loan term and qualifying for a lower interest rate than your current rate. With the same example as above, if you refinance to a 10 year term loan with a lower interest rate it would still save you $573.00 in interest. Qualifying for an even lower interest rate could save you up to $5,590 in interest.     To see your potential savings, use our student loan refinancing calculator.*   

Make Extra Payments 

No matter what payment plan you have for your student loans, making extra payments can be a beneficial way to shorten the amount of time it takes to pay off your loans, including saving you in interest costs.    

Conclusion

Tackling student loan debt may seem daunting at times, but payments don’t last forever. If it’s your goal to pay your loans off as quickly as possible, hopefully using some of these tips will help you reach that goal. Knowing the average time it takes to pay off loans will allow you to set realistic expectations for your financial goals.   
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
Chart of rates over time
2020-05-18
Current LIBOR Rate Update: May 2020

This blog provides the most current LIBOR rate data as of May 7, 2020, along with a brief overview of the meaning of LIBOR and how it applies to variable-rate student loans. For more information on how LIBOR affects variable rate loans, read our blog, LIBOR: What It Means for Student Loans.

 

What is LIBOR?

The London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) is a money market interest rate that is considered to be the standard in the interbank Eurodollar market. In short, it is the rate at which international banks are willing to offer Eurodollar deposits to one another. Many variable rate loans and lines of credit, such as mortgages, credit cards, and student loans, base their interest rates on the LIBOR rate.

 

How LIBOR Affects Variable Rate Student Loans

If you have variable-rate student loans, changes to the LIBOR impact the interest rate you’ll pay on the loan throughout your repayment. Private student loans, including refinanced student loans, have interest rates that are tied to an index, such as LIBOR. But that’s not the rate you’ll pay. The lender also adds a margin that is based on your credit – the better your credit, the lower the margin. By adding the LIBOR rate to the margin along with any other fees or charges that may be included, you can determine your annual percentage rate (APR), which is the full cost a lender charges you per year for funds expressed as a percentage. Your APR is the actual amount you pay.

 

LIBOR Maturities

There are seven different maturities for LIBOR, including overnight, one week, one month, two months, three months, six months, and twelve months. The most commonly quoted rate is the three-month U.S. dollar rate. Some student loan companies, including ELFI, adjust their interest rates every quarter based on the three-month LIBOR rate.

 

Current 1 Month LIBOR Rate - May 2020

As of May 7, 2020, the 1 month LIBOR rate is 0.20%. If the lender sets their margin at 3%, your new rate would be 3.20% (0.20% + 3.00%=3.20%). The chart below displays fluctuations in the 1 month LIBOR rate over time.

 

(Source: macrotrends.net)

   

Current 3 Month LIBOR Rate - May 2020

As of May 7, 2020, the 3 month LIBOR rate is 0.43%. If the lender sets their margin at 3%, your new rate would be 3.43% (0.43% + 3.00%=3.43%). The chart below displays fluctuations in the 3 month LIBOR rate over time.

  Chart of 3 Month LIBOR for May 2020 (Source: macrotrends.net)  

Current 6 Month LIBOR Rate - May 2020

As of May 7, 2020, the 6 month LIBOR rate is 0.69%. If the lender sets their margin at 3%, your new rate would be 3.69% (0.69% + 3.00%=3.69%). The chart below displays fluctuations in the 6 month LIBOR rate over time.

  Chart of 6 Month LIBOR May 2020 (Source: macrotrends.net)  

Current 1 Year LIBOR Rate - May 2020

As of May 7, 2020, the 1 year LIBOR rate is 0.78%. If the lender sets their margin at 3%, your new rate would be 3.78% (0.78% + 3.00%=3.78%). The chart below displays fluctuations in the 1 year LIBOR rate over time.

  Chart of 1 Year LIBOR May 2020 (Source: macrotrends.net)  

Understanding LIBOR

If you are planning to refinance your student loans or take out a personal loan or line of credit, understanding how the LIBOR rate works can help you choose between a fixed or variable-rate loan. Keep in mind that ELFI has some of the lowest student loan refinancing rates available, and you can prequalify in minutes without affecting your credit score.* Keep up with the ELFI blog for monthly updates on the current 1 month, 3 month, 6 month, and 1 year LIBOR rate data.

 
 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.