How to lower student loan payments

Are you still struggling to make student loan repayments? Here are a set of cost effective ways to lower your student loan payments. Find out more about income driven repayment, loan consolidation and more.

Posted by Theres Ann on 1st April 2019


The studies of the US Department of Education has shown that 42.2 million Americans repaid their loans for a sum of nearly $1.5 trillion. More than fifty percent of the students who have graduated are carrying the burdens of their student loans. A few of the misconceptions about the student loans are as given below. These misconceptions have clearly lead a few students to fall prey to the student loan trap.

  • Student loans are always beneficial. Loans are highly beneficial if you have sufficient amount of money as income to repay your loans. The amount of money you take as loans should not exceed your total income for a year.

  • Automatic renewal of loans is possible until you graduate. Though loans are typically granted for one year, if the financial situation of the borrower’s family changes, then the loan characteristic can change as well.

  • Another misconception is that federal loans and private loans are the same. However, the truth is that federal and private loans aren’t the same. There are several differences ranging from the interest rates to the repayment plans and more.

  • Bankruptcy is the best possible solution to escape from the loans, is another common misconception. A bankruptcy wouldn’t always solve the problem of student loans. Only in extremely rare cases would bankruptcy be a reason behind student loan forgiveness.

As a high number of students fall prey to student debt, the number of young graduates entering into a business or getting married has plummeted. Interest rates are calculated as a percentage of unpaid principal on loans.

Understanding of application of interest rates to federal student loans is important. Depending on the interest rate and type of loan the amount that has to be paid as interest varies. Payment of interest during deferment periods also don’t happen. As soon as money is dispensed to them, students with unsubsidized loans start paying the interest.

There are several repayment periods that each loan has. Most loans have a grace period before their repayment.

  • No repayments have to be made within six months after your graduation.

  • The grace period can probably be used to find a jo to pay off the student loan as early as possible.

  • During this grace period, a budget can be prepared to pay off the student loan. Communication with the loan servicer can also be done during this period.

  • Automatic payments can be made to avoid late fees. Student loan default can be avoided at any cost by collecting required knowledge about loan payoff and target satisfaction.

  • The loans which include 6 month grace period include Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loan Federal Stafford loan, and Private student loans.

For a private loan, the grace period depends on the lender and your terms of the contract. Student consolidation can also be done during the grace period. Thus federal student loans can be grouped into one payment and matters can be simplified considerably.

The minimum monthly payment is based on the amount you owe, the length of the repayment plan, and the loan amount. Any information regarding the loan can be retrieved from the National Student loan Data System. Be aware that your payments would be due even if you don’t receive the bills.


Table of Contents

SI No Topics
1 What happens if you miss a loan payment?
2 Student loan Consolidation
3 Income Contingent Repayment
4 Pros of Income Driven Repayment Plans
5 Cons of Income Driven Repayment Plans
6 Does Income based Repayment suit you?
7 How to apply for Income driven repayment plan?
8 Essential documents before application to the program
9 Signing up for a Graduate Repayment Plan
10 Consideration of an extended repayment plan
11 Loan Consolidation
12 Advantages of opting a graduated repayment plan
13 Disadvantages of a graduated repayment plan
14 Changing your state of Residence
15 Automatic Payment Sign-up
16 How to signup for automatic student loan payments
17 Making the payments on time
18 How to pay your student loans on time?
19 Mistakes to be avoided while repaying student loans
20 Getting help from your employer
21 Repayment Assistance
22 Seeking professional help
23 How to lower student loan payments FAQs

What happens if you miss a loan repayment?

If a late payment is made for student loan repayment, you might be charged 6% of the payment amount as the late fee. If no payment is made in 90 days, then he/she might be considered delinquent. If no payments are made for 90 days, then you are automatically entitled to being a defaulter.

Missed payments would be visible on the credit payments. If payments cannot be afforded, you can contact your student loan servicer, and repayment options can be reviewed.

Student loans would be canceled in the circumstances including the closing down of college, a granted by unreceived refund, the loan that was a result of identity theft, the death of the student borrower, partial or permanent disability of the student borrower.

Higher education is a practice that contributes to the growth of society. It cannot be replaced.

But the cost that comes along has burdened the lives of so many youngsters of the nation.

Precious youthful years of these young people get replaced with years of toil and hard-labor to repay the loan that they have taken.

Hence it is necessary to figure out ways to reduce the burden of student loan repayment. A few methods to lower student loan repayment are given below.

Adam Minsky helped people to stretch payments up to 25 years. Extended repayment option is available only to federal student loan borrowers. Outstanding balance cannot be levied on Direct Loan or Federal Family Education Loan. As the length of the loan repayment increases, the interest rates also increase.

Monthly installments that gradually grow are an option for the graduated payment plan.

Usually, federal loans are paid within 10 years. However, you might receive 10 to 30 years of loan consolidation, if the loans are consolidated into the department of education.

Pay As You Earn,  Revised Pay As You Earn, Income-Based Repayment and Income Contingent Repayment  programs are the various income-driven programs


Student Loan Consolidation

Multiple federal student loans with varying interests, repayment rates, and payment due dates can be consolidated into a new loan. If the loan balances of borrowers exceed beyond $60,000, then the loan term can be extended to 30 years.

To enroll in certain forgiveness programs then you be in certain types of repayment plans. Multiple student loans with varying interests, repayment dates, and payment due dates, have a direct consolidation as a perfect solution.

Simple consolidation and extension of the repayment period, beyond 10 years is another method of consolidation.

It is also essential to identify the priority, more cash or more savings.

Extracting the loan through a private lender would mean using that money to pay off old loans, would be one practical solution. Federal options including income-driven options, forgiveness options, deferment, and forbearance are results of refinancing at a lower interest rate.

Opt your lender's autopay program for private student loans. A discount rate is guaranteed for monthly payments.

Application for an income-driven repayment plan

Having a federal student loan would make you automatically entitled to receive these financial benefits. Under the income-driven repayment plan, the repayment period received an extension from 20 to 25 years. Due to the change in the situation, the payment will also change.

As the payment is significantly smaller, more interest is paid over the length of the loan. By signing up for a graduated repayment plan, you will be able to pay a larger amount than the other repayment plans.

More is paid in interest over the length of your loan than a Standard Repayment plan.

Loan repayment up to 25 years is possible with this. Moreover, a choice can be made between fixed and graduated payments.

There are different types of income-driven repayment plans. They are as given below.

1 - Income-based repayment - This repayment can lower your monthly student loan payments. If the student loan balances are high and it becomes unaffordable for you to repay your loan, then the IBR plan grants much relief.

High loan balances would mean, high-interest payments every month. IBR sets repayment amounts to be 10% to 15% of your discretionary income. This makes our payment affordable while taking income and family size into account. Each student entitled to this payment plan receives an individualized payment plan. IDR can be used only by those who have federal student loans.

Federal student loans that are eligible for IBR include the following - 

  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans

  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loan

  • Direct Consolidation loan

Federal student loans that are not eligible for repayment include Parent PLUS Loans, Other types of the federal loan made to parents, direct consolidation that helped parents repay the loan, private student loans and many more.

2  - Pay As You Earn helps borrowers to manage the debt loan repayments. To qualify for the PAYE program, your monthly payments must be smaller than your standard payments, which is the 10% of your discretionary income.

The criteria to qualify for PAYE is - A federal student loan should not be taken before October 1, 2007, and you also need assistance in repaying your student loans.

3 - Revised Pay As You Earn began in Dec 2015 and is the latest option for income-driven repayment plans.

A few of the loans that receive the benefits of REPAYE include Direct Loans, Stafford Loans, Graduate PLUS Loans, and non-parent federal student loans that are consolidated into Direct Loans.

Monthly payment is 10% of the discretionary income.

The program offers forgiveness after 20 years for loans originated for undergraduate studies, and forgiveness is offered after 25 years, for graduate studies. Student Loan Interest Subsidy is another feature of REPAYE that makes the program even more popular.

For REPAYE, for subsidized loans, 100% of the unpaid interest is paid each month and 50% of unpaid interest is subsidized for unsubsidized student loans.


Income Contingent Repayment

Income Contingent Repayment may be the next option for monthly student loan repayment. Monthly payments are lesser than 20% of your discretionary income. Student loan forgiveness is granted after 25 years.

Pros of Income-Driven Repayment plan

  • Manageable monthly payments 

  • Change your monthly payments when your income rates and family size changes. Recalculation can be done on payments based on income and background. Eligibility of Public Moreover, changes in income can be as low as $0. Student loans are forgiven at the end of 20-25 years.

  • All federal student loan borrowers will not qualify for an IDR. To become eligible for IDR, consolidation of federal student loans should be done by the borrower.

  • You would not benefit from an IBR plan if 10% of your income is higher than a standard repayment plan.

Cons of income-driven repayment

A few of the disadvantages of income-driven repayment plans are as given below.

  • Longer duration of repayment - The typical repayment period is usually 10 years. But after having chosen the income-driven repayment program, the duration stretches to nearly 20 to 25 years.

  • Tax incurred has to be repaid - The debt that gets forgiven, as part of income-driven repayment, is considered as a taxable income. So the forgiveness could come with a sizable tax bill.

  • More interest is paid on an IDR - Interest gets accrued over the years compelling your to pay the interest for an additional 10 to 15 years.

  • The growth of the additional loan balance - High monthly interest charges are a result of a high student loan balance. Unpaid interest gets add up to the principal amount, increasing the interest that you pay each time.

  • Increase in the amount of documentation - Recertification of income happens during every 12 months.


Does income-based repayment suit you?

Below given are a few parameters that would help you understand if the income-based repayment plan is the best for you.

  • Estimation of monthly payment - Estimation of the new monthly payment will be necessary before you decide on the type of income-based student repayment. You can make use of any IBR calculators in order to know about the monthly payments that you would have to make.

  • Knowledge of tax implications - You need to find answers for several questions including your ability to pay off the student loans before the completion of the repayment terms, your expectation of a debt being forgiven and more

  • Choice of what is right for you - It is more than wise to choose an affordable payment plan by understanding the facts, numbers, and implications.


How to apply for an income-driven repayment plan?

A set of procedures would have to be followed to apply for an income-driven repayment plan. They are as given below.

  • Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request should be made on Studentloans.gov. The necessary information to qualify should also be added along.

  • Recertification is also essential to remain eligible for the lowest possible monthly payment amount. Depending on the income, family size or state of residence, the monthly payment amount will vary.

In order to remain eligible for the lowest possible monthly amount, recertification is essential. Upon recertifying and qualifying for up to 25 years, reduced monthly payments will be received for 25 years. But an income tax has to be paid on an amount that is forgiven.

 

 

 

 

More interest has to be paid to the life of your loan as the income-driven plans get extended. 


Essential documents before application to the program 

  • Federal Student Aid ID

  • Personal Information includes address, email and phone number.

  • Spouse Information

  • Once the income-driven repayment plan is requested online, you'll be linked to the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

  • You’ll also have to enter personal information for IRS tax return information. Income proofs including that of wages, unemployment, dividend income, interest, and alimony are also entered.
  • The length of the pay period along with the number of hours worked also has to be submitted.

  • Make sure that you don’t mention details about untaxed income such as Supplemental Security Income, child support or federal and state public assistance. 

Signing Up for a Graduate Repayment Plan

If your income doesn’t qualify for a lower repayment with an IDR plan, then one option is to sign-up for a graduated repayment plan. In a graduated repayment plan, the payments start low and then increase every two years. The payments are paid off after every 10 years.

However, interest incurred would be more than the standard repayment plan because you start paying out low amounts in the beginning and the amount improves over the years.

Consideration of an extended repayment plan

If your federal direct loans amount to more than $30,000, then you might be eligible for an extended repayment plan. This helps in repayment of loans of over up to 25 years and the payment can be chosen between fixed and graduated payments.

Payments would be lower than a standard repayment plan or graduated repayment plan, due to the longer term and hence, it is cheaper to sign up for an IDR plan.


Loan Consolidation

For having multiple federal loans with their own interest rates, repayment terms and minimum monthly payments can be a wise decision. The weighted average of the previous loan rates will become the weighted average, and hence getting a lower rate would just remain a dream.

The payment periods for graduated repayment plan is given below. 

Debt Amount Repayment Period
< $7,500 10 years
$75,000  - $10,000 12 years
$10,000 - $20,000 15 years
$20,000 - $40,000 20 years
$40,000 - $60,000 25 years
> $60,000 30 years

Advantages of opting a Graduated Repayment plan

A few of the advantages of choosing a graduated repayment plan is as given below.

  • All borrowers are eligible

  • Student Loan Payments can be handled on lower entry-level wages when they enter the work-force.

  • 10-year duration is granted for the loan to be paid back


Disadvantages of a Graduated Repayment plan

Disadvantages of the graduated repayment plan are as given below.

  • More money is paid over as interest compared to the other programs

  • If your income does not rise up to your expectations then you’ll have to really struggle through.


Changing your state of residence

Student loan repayment assistance programs, along with incentives to new residents, are offered by several states. So, if your state doesn’t offer any, then shift to some other state which focuses on improvement of student performance with various incentives and grants.

States like Texas and Minnesota offers programs with free money. However, before deciding on shifting to a new place, consider all the related factors including cost of living, the standard of living, highest possible income and more.


Automatic Payment Sign-up

Discounts are offered by lenders for signing up for automatic payments. After connecting your bank account, it is possible that you would qualify you for a 0.25% discount, as an offer for the automatic payment to which you are entitled.

How to sign up for automatic student loan payments

Student loan servicer company manages the loan for the borrower. Various steps involved in student loan repayments are as given below.

  • Create your account and sign-in to your account

  • Select setup a recurring payment under the payment option

  • To add a card payment account, the various credentials that are to be added include credit or debit card number, card number, expiration date, security code, billing zip code, account nickname, legal authorization, and many more.

  • To add a bank payment account, it is essential to add checkings and savings account button, enter the nickname, bank routing number, account number and many more.

  • You can either select to pay the bill upon receipt or to pay the amount by the due date.

  • The applicant can also choose to pay up to a maximum or to pay by the due date.

  • Account nickname, routing or account details, and the name on the account has to be chosen.

  • To select any changes, you can either confirm or edit to make any changes.


Making the payments on time

A default can lead to a reduction in the credit scores. And late fee can be levied by making a late payment. There are also some lenders who offer small percentages of reduction once you make payments on time. The payments are made for 36 to 48 months. If these offers are granted then you’ll have a significant amount of money, in your grant.

How to pay your student loans on time

  • One best way to make sure that your payments are made on time is to arrange for auto-payment options. This helps in sending the required amount from the borrower’s bank account to the lender’s bank account directly. However, if repayment is a struggle for you then it would not feasible to make payments using autopay option.

  • If you are planning to make a student loan repayment then make sure that the loan information is accessed via the national student loan repayment system.

  • In those cases where you are struggling to make your monthly payments, switching to an income-driven repayment plan or applying for deferment or forbearance will be effective. The two other options that are applicable in this case includes trimming the expenses using budgeting and implementing ways to increase your income.


Mistakes to be avoided while repaying student loans 

  • Losing track of loans - Forgetting about repayment schedules can be the greatest villain in not paying the loans on time.

  • Failure in notifying loan servicer about contact information - Not updating the contact information can prevent valuable information from reaching you on time. Being late on payments can seriously impact your ability to pay the debts on time.

  • Failure in claiming the student loan interest reduction - A deduction of up to $2,500 can be done on income tax returns on federal student loans. Several hundred yields of tax savings are returned as a result of the reduction.

  • Choosing a longer repayment plan - Though you’ll have to pay comparatively less for monthly payments, a longer repayment plan extracts a higher amount from you.

  • Not considering the causes of interest capitalization - deferred payments can cause the loan balance to grow if it is not paid on time.


Getting help from your employer

There are employers who have brought in top talents to their firm, by simply offering them student loan repayment assistance. The turnout was abundant that more companies came up with this strategy. This simply was an indicator of how desperately in need were the students to get rid of their loans.

Refinancing your student loans

Private Loans are not eligible to receive help such as the Income Based Repayment.

And if a student holds both private and public loans then he can consider the process of refinancing.

Refinancing helps you to take a new loan for the total amount of your current ones.

Different terms of repayment, interest rate, and the monthly payment are assigned for the new loan.

To improve the chances of the loan, obtain a cosigner, with good credit and a stable income.

Steps to refinance student loans

The process of refinancing follows a stepwise procedure. The steps of refinancing are as given below.

Check for credits

If you have sufficient credits, you may not qualify for perfect refinancing offers. But by increasing your credit over time you can qualify to become better candidates for the future.

Selection of new loan

For refinancing you’ll be offered several plans of new loans with varying repayment periods including 5, 7, 10, 12 and 20-year repayment programs. When a federal loan is refinanced to a private loan, access to federal protections will be lost.

Filling of application form

An application form containing details including citizenship proof, valid id number, proof of income, official statements of private and federal loans, and co-signer information is filled.

Wait for approval

An approval from the lender is mandatory after submission of the application. After the application has been submitted, continue paying loans as in the previous months until the new loan from the lender has been sanctioned. Though refinancing has benefits, also identify the disadvantages of the same before applying.


Repayment Assistance

Repayment Assistance is another possible solution. Several agencies and employers help in repayment assistance. There are a variety of repayment options from which you can choose from.

Few of the popular repayment assistance programs include Active Duty Health Professions Student Loan Repayment Program, Airforce Judge Advocate General’s Corps Loan Repayment Program, Alaska Supporting Health Care Access Through Loan Repayment, Alfond Leader’s Program, Arizona State Loan Repayment Program, Arkansas Rural Physician Recruitment Program, Arkansas Veterinary State Loan Repayment Program, Army Reserves College Loan Repayment Program, California Mental Health Loan Assumption Program and more.


Seeking professional help

For more clarifications on loans and ways to reduce student loans, by intelligent repayments, it would be enough to seek the right professional help especially with the lenders who were ready to offer you the loan. You can even hire a CFA to help you with the student loans.

  • Identify if you fall under student loan forgiveness programs.

  • To receive student loan forgiveness, you should teach for five consecutive years in a school that is entitled to Title I funding under elementary and secondary education act of 1965. You’ll also receive loan forgiveness if you work or volunteer for 1 year, in tax-exempt organizations.

  •  Working in the US Military will also help you to obtain student loan forgiveness.


Conclusion

No one would ever want to lose any money. If saving money would mean gaining some money out of the interest that you are supposed to pay, then that is an added luck. The article aims to throw light on the effective strategies involved in reducing the student loan repayment amount.

From loan repayment methods to loan repayment plans, there can be several factors that influence the amount of money that you are supposed to repay. On-time payments and selection of the right repayment plan can help you to save a lot of money. Be wise after you opt for student loan repayment.


How to lower student loan payments FAQs

1 - Is it possible to get the student loan reduced?

Yes, there are several legal ways to get the student loan reduced.

2 -  Is it possible to negotiate on student loan debt?

It is possible to negotiate over student loan debt. However, you'll have to bear the financial consequences.

3 - Are all student loans forgiven after 10 years?

Student loans of borrowers who have stayed in public service for nearly 10 years are eligible for forgiveness after 10 years. For the others, forgiveness is granted after almost 25 years.

4 - How efficient is the lumpsum repayment of student loans?

Those who wish to can definitely choose this form of repayment. However, the reduction in the principal amount of loan, may not always happen in this case.

5 - Will I be arrested and sent to jail if I do not repay the student loans?

No. Not paying your student loans won't take you to jail. 

6 - Can you pay student loan off early?

Yes, it is possible to pay student loan off early.

7 - How can I delay paying off my loans?

Contacting the student loan adviser, changing the repayment plan, consolidation, deferment and forbearance, and loan forgiveness are a few of the options available to delay paying off your loans.