Attending college is supposed to get us ahead in life, offering the opportunity to pursue a worthwhile career. Usually, it does work out that way, but not before we have spent thousands of dollars on tuition, books, and dorm fees. Dealing with that debt is never simple, but following these few tips can help ease the burden.
Use Your Grace Period
It doesn’t matter whether you got a bachelor’s degree or if you went further along in your education, everyone has a grace period before they are required to start making payments. But just because you don’t have to do anything about your loan during this time does not mean you should pretend that it doesn’t exist. This time is a blessing, so make sure you use it properly.
Take a closer look at the terms of your loan and develop a repayment plan. By determining how much you have to repay (including interest) versus what you can afford to pay, you may be able to pay off more in the beginning and finish paying the loan off sooner than expected. Submitting payments during the grace period is another option that can help you get debt free early in your career. As well as lowering your principle, this will also help you get used to paying that money out every month.
Volunteer in Exchange for Debt Forgiveness
Charity organizations have found a great way of attracting volunteers to assist in their causes. By offering student loan forgiveness or reimbursements, these organizations attract educated people eager to give back to their communities. Among the more noteworthy organizations who do participate in these programs are AmeriCorps, VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), Peace Corps, Teach for America, and National Health Service Corps.
Additionally, two new organizations have also started to offer incentives that include debt forgiveness for student loans. Zerobound and SponsorChange are both in need of volunteers. They offer money to repay your loans in exchange for providing volunteer service. However, there are some stipulations. For instance, only certain types of loans qualify. It’s important to ask in advance what conditions apply.
Depending on your degree, you may have more options for tuition reimbursement or loan forgiveness. Many cities are desperate for professionals and seek out younger generations of workers to infuse a floundering economy. For this reason, places like Kansas; Detroit; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; and Saskatchewan, Canada all offer incentives to new grads.
Of course, tuition or loan reimbursement doesn’t come without its strings. Some common stipulations require applicants to live in specific communities or work at participating businesses. You may also be required to remain in the city for a predetermined amount of time.
Increase Your Income
The more money you earn, the sooner you can get those student loans paid back. It may require taking on extra work, but it will be worth it eventually. However, for this to benefit you, that extra income has to be applied to your debt. It does no good to go out and buy expensive toys with the additional income. There will be time for that later.
Start out by seeking overtime and advancement opportunities at work, especially if it’s your first step in your new career. Your new bosses will be pleased to see your initiative; they don’t need to know you’re trying to pay off your loans. Also, consider increasing your earning potential. While you don’t want to get further in debt, it may be beneficial to look into getting an MBA or similar degree. A lot of companies will help pay for a master’s degree. You can also find relatively cheap options online that are well respected. This may add a little bit to your debt, but it can also increase your earning potential and allow you to pay everything off sooner.
In the end, you know what you owe and what must be paid back. By doing what you can to repay that debt early, you can be free of it sooner and reduce the amount of interest you’ll have to pay. Once your debt has been paid, you can live the life you envisioned, free of that burden.