Tips from #PaidInFull student loan borrowers to help you successfully pay off your loans
Paying back student loans may feel overwhelming but creating a balanced financial plan can help you easily tackle your loans and become paid in full sooner than you think.
If you’re just starting this process, you should know that the vast majority of student loan borrowers successfully repay their loans, and you can too.
Many borrowers are turning to side hustles to help them become paid in full. Taking on a second job is what Amanda R. from Fairfield, Ohio, did to become student loan debt free.
I had many side hustles. I just did what I was already good at. I started coaching cheerleading when I was 15, so I taught camps and tumbling classes to make extra money. I also happen to be a little crafty, so I started selling cheerleading bows on Etsy and at craft shows to boost that income stream.
Side hustles are not the only extra income you can put towards your student loans. Lawrence J. from Wake Forest, North Carolina says committing to paying more than the minimum each month helped him pay his loans in full.
Create a plan to pay off your student loan balance as soon as possible. You can start out small. Commit to paying $25 more than the minimum payment in one year and gradually increase that amount by $25 the following year. Another option would be to apply any tax refunds or job bonuses directly to your principal.
How to pay towards the principal of a student loan is a common question we get from borrowers. It’s first important to understand how payments are applied. In general, payments are first applied to fees (if any), accrued unpaid interest and then the principal. Assuming you don’t have any fees, any amount paid over the accrued unpaid interest reduces the principal.
Pro tip: If you’re a Navient customer you should know that any extra payments are automatically allocated to your loan with the highest interest rate, but if you prefer to target a different loan — such as the one with the smallest balance — you can change your online profile to set up different instructions. You can also decide if you want to “pay ahead.” This means, your overpayment will cover next month’s payment. To make an extra payment to a specific loan select “Make a Payment” and then “Specify for Each Loan” in your Navient.com account. You can also email or call us for assistance with allocating overpayments.
If you have multiple student loans, you should know that you’re not alone. It’s common to have a combination of loans to help pay for school. Shanin C. from Atlanta, Georgia., says budgeting helped her tackle her payments on multiple loans.
Having multiple student loans can be overwhelming. For me I was focused on paying them off as early as possible, so I made extra payments on my loans. I set a budget and allocated the same amount each month to student loan payments. I chose the loans with the highest interest rates and paid them off first. When I paid off a loan, I never decreased my monthly payment. I just put more to the next loan to pay it off. I felt accomplished each time I paid one in full.
You don’t have to tackle your student loans alone. Borrowers who stay connected to their loan servicer and stick with repayment are more likely to be successful. If you need help, contact your loan servicer. Our Navient team works closely with borrowers to help them understand their repayment options including income-driven and loan forgiveness.
Take it from borrower Alicia Z. from Jacksonville, Florida, who communicated with us when she needed help with repayment.
Remember that your student loan company is there to help you. If you are facing a hardship, call and talk to them about the programs and options that are available to you.
Ready to create your financial plan to tackle your student loans? Check out our “Money and Finances” section of Navient.com to snag more money management tips and interactive financial worksheets.
Brianna Huff is the communications specialist for Navient and a graduate from University of North Carolina Charlotte. She participates in no spend weekends and uses autopay to manage her student loans