How much should you expect to pay on your student loans?

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The interest rate on a student loan is specified in the loan promissory note or in your personal loan portal on the lender’s web site. If you have two or more student loans, each student loan could have a different interest rate.
To determine the average interest rate, you will have to calculate the weighted average of the interest rates on the student loans. Multiply each loan’s interest rate by the loan balance, add these products together, and divide the result by the total of the loan balances.

For many college students, they are borrowing multiple student loans each year. It’s understandable to lose track along the way. To find your federal student loans, you can visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website to locate your federal loans
Finding private student loans is a little trickier. Look back at any previous paperwork or emails you may have received. You can also get a copy of your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com to see which loans are listed. Both federal and private student loans are required to report their student loans to each of the three major credit bureaus. Confirm your current loan balance with each lender.

There are several options to reduce your monthly loan payment . If you have federal student loans, you could apply for one of the Income-Driven Repayment plans, which bases your loan payment on your income and family size, as opposed to the amount you owe. Federal student loans are also eligible for a Graduated Repayment Plan (which increases the loan payments every two years) or an Extended Repayment Plan (which reduces the loan payment by choosing a longer repayment term). For private loans, call your lender directly to learn about the options they offer for payment reduction. You could also consider refinancing student loans into a new loan with a longer repayment term, thus lowering your monthly payment.

Many student loan lenders offer a 0.25% interest rate reduction if you enroll in automatic payments. If you have good credit, you can consider refinancing student loans to get a potentially lower interest rate. Having a cosigner with good credit as well could help you score an even better interest rate.

Call the lender to explore your options before you are late with a payment. You can apply for a deferment or forbearance, which temporarily pauses payments. The interest won’t accrue on subsidized federal student loans during a deferment, but it will accrue on unsubsidized loans and private loans. Both deferments and forbearances have eligibility requirements. Not all private lenders offer deferments and forbearances. Some private lenders offer a partial forbearance with interest-only loan payments.

The time it takes to pay off your student loan depends on many factors – your total balance, the interest rate, the repayment plan, the monthly payment and if you are able to pay extra towards your loans.

The best way to pay off your student loans faster is to simply pay more than the required minimum payment each month. You can do this by cutting expenses to apply that money towards your debt. You can also find ways to apply extra money – getting a raise at work, working a side job or selling unwanted items for cash. Another option to consider is refinancing student loans, since a potential lower interest rate could help get rid of student loans faster.

Yes, you can make extra payments on your student loans. There are no prepayment penalties on federal and private student loans. But you should contact your specific lender to see how they handle extra payments. You may need to specify which loan you would like your payment applied to, such as the loan with the highest interest rate. Otherwise, the lender may treat your extra payment as an early payment of the next installment. If you’re working towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness, it doesn’t make sense to make extra payments, since an extra payment will reduce the amount of your forgiveness.

Enroll in auto-payments for an interest rate reduction. Some private student loans provide a graduation reward, good grades reward or an on-time payment reward. For federal loans, you may be able to qualify for student loan forgiveness depending on your job. Consider unconventional options – move to an area that will help pay student loans, find a job that offers student loan repayment assistance or volunteer for potential loan forgiveness.

If you are considering student loans to pay for college or graduate school, there are many ways to borrow responsibly. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what grants and federal aid you qualify for. Apply for as many scholarships and grants as you can. Choose a more affordable school. Work while you are in school, and keep expenses as low as possible. Try to ensure that your total student loan debt at graduation is less than your annual income.