Paying for higher education is getting more and more expensive, and while paying for it you do not want to come out of a 4, 8, or 10 year program with more debt than you can handle. Here are some smart tips, programs, and ideas to help on the path to furthering your education.
Tips for Saving What Cash You Have.
Try to reduce interest rates if and when possible. A lot of student loan lenders, including the Department of Education (the lender of all student loans), have some sort of interest rate discount for those who set up a direct deposit to their banking account with their loans. Usually it is around .25%, which might sound really low or insignificant but over time, say 10 or 20 years, it can really help with knocking off a big chunk of money. “In fact, if you have a loan amount of more than $20,000, that ‘insignificant’ discount could save you hundreds of dollars. Which would help you get out of debt faster.”
Look into a loan consolidation, to see if it’s the right way to go. The federal government, and sometimes private lenders will also, offer consolidations of loans for their borrowers along with their student loans. “In some cases, you can also reduce your interest rate with one of these consolidation loans. What you need to pay close attention to, however, is the effect it will have on all your loans. For example, it won’t help you if one of your loans winds up with a lower interest rate (after consolidation) while another one ends up with a much higher interest rate.”
This sounds kind of obvious but still is worth mentioning, the easiest way to pay off loans is by paying more each month. The loan lender is supposed to always accept your payment whether bigger and sooner than expected. As for how much more you should pay, first look at your budget and decide what percentage more you afford. But make sure you do not miss a payment, even if you paid more last month, a missed payment can seriously screw with your credit score, which will help you further down the road to buy a house, car, etc.
Another helpful tip is to try not to buy your school books from the school book store when you can find them for half the price or more somewhere else. A good place to start looking is, of course, Amazon.com, but another really good place is Alibris.com which caries used and new books sometimes for as little as $.99 with $2.00 shipping. Which is a lot cheaper than elsewhere. And if you are on too tight a budget to buy your books try renting them through one of the online websites such as Alibirs.com, Amazon.com, or textbookrenals.com. Renting books helps reduce the cost that books add to your tuition and help save you money in the long run; you also don’t have a ton of unwanted textbooks lying around once you graduate either.
And obviously budget, make sure you are not spending a lot of money out, at the movies, on non-school related books, restaurants, whatever your thing is. Just make sure your not going over board and find that you cannot pay your monthly statement.
Loan Forgiveness Programs
Loan forgiveness programs are categorized into four broad categories, community service, military, profession, and state specific. With in the community service you have programs such as AmeriCorps, which repay a person’s student loans based on their service in the AmeriCorps program. Other volunteer organizations, such as the Peace Corps and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), offer loan forgiveness programs as well.
There are many different military programs ranging from Active Duty health Professions Loan Repayment Program, to qualify you “must be a fully qualified health professional as determined by the US Military branch in an identified skill shortage area and you must be serving as You must also be serving as a commissioned officer who is serving on active duty not in the reserve unit,” those who qualify are eligible for up to $40,000 of loans forgiven. Another is navy Loan Repayment Program, “This plan is for active-duty borrowers. You must have no prior military experience and enlist for a minimum of 3 years. If you meet requirements, you are eligible to receive 33 1/3% of the remaining principal balance or $1,500 (whichever is greater) per year, with a maximum of $65,000.”
There are also professional based loan forgiveness programs such as the Faculty Loan Repayment Program (FLRP) and the Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program. These offer forgiveness up to $40,000 for those who qualify. Within the professional forgiveness programs are programs such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program where, “You must make 120 qualifying payments under the standard, income-based, income- contingent, or Pay As You Earn repayment plan. (Payments made before October 1, 2007, and payments made while in default, do not count.) You must have been working full time at a public service or nonprofit organization when you made these payments.Eligible borrowers may receive up to 100% of the remaining outstanding balance after 10 years and 120 eligible payments.” Or there is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program that says, “You must teach full time for 5 consecutive years in a designated elementary or secondary school or educational service agency serving low-income families. Other requirements are listed in the link above.Borrowers are eligible to receive up to $5,000 a year or up to $17,500, depending on when the service began and what subject they teach.”
Along with these and many more are state specific loan programs that you can read all about at https://www.saltmoney.org
With these tools you can create a less debt filled future with your new enhanced and educated brains. Check out what loan/forgiveness program works best for you, saltmoney.org has a comprehensive list of each state’s programs.