Early in the term of a loan, more of your payment goes to interest than principal. It can be frustrating for new graduates to make minimum payments month after month, but see very little impact on the balance. The proportion of interest to principal changes later in loan repayment timetable, however that can be several years down the road. But here’s the good news: By law, lenders must apply extra payments directly to your principal (as long as you don’t have any outstanding fees or overdue interest). Anything over the minimum payment is subtracted directly from your balance. Particularly early in the life of your loan, it can have a big impact on your repayment.
How To Come Up With Extra Cash for Your Student Loans
Trying to make extra payments can seem daunting when you’re fresh out of college and earning an entry-level salary, but there are lots of creative ways to bring in a little extra income to make paying off student loans easier each month:
Live as frugally as you can immediately after college. That might mean bunking with Mom and Dad or having roommates in the short term, but remember it’s only temporary.
Turn a hobby into a side hustle
Give up one meal out each month
Convert your clutter into cash by selling unwanted items on eBay, Craig’s List, or another site.
Put your spare change in a jar and cash it in every few months
You can also use one-time payments to knock down your balance:
Apply your tax refund to your student loans
Use any windfalls like a birthday check, bonus at work, inheritance, or insurance payout.
An Even Better Strategy to Pay Off Student Loans Faster
While making extra payments can help you get out of debt quicker, other factors like your interest rate are even more significant. If you’re paying more than 4% interest, you might be paying too much. You can see the difference for yourself by entering a different percentage in Step 2 above. Refinancing to a lower interest rate could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. With many lenders, it takes less than 5 minutes to get a personalized refinancing quote, and there’s no impact to your credit score.
Find out how much you could save with these top lenders: