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Early Bird Briefs from MilitaryTimes.com

It's payback time—literally! If you've just graduated or are reaching the end of your grace period, your student loan will soon enter full repayment status. Where do you even begin? Often, the total loan balance can seem daunting for a recent graduate. Ease your worries—we have a few tips to make your repayment easier.

  • Put away money early.

    Federal loans have a grace period before payments begin. If you've recently graduated, start saving money to pay down your loans now. For private loans, you'll typically make payments—but perhaps not a full principal and interest payment—while you're still in school, which may reduce your overall cost of borrowing.

  • Make a plan.

    Understanding how much you'll owe each month and exactly how long you'll be paying will enable you to account for the expense in your monthly budget. From there, think about how you can get ahead even faster. Consider putting a portion of monetary gifts you receive or tax refunds toward your loans to accelerate your loan payoff date.

  • Cut unnecessary costs.

    Do you need to live alone in that studio apartment or could you live with a roommate somewhere cheaper? Is that much cellphone data really necessary or could you go with the basic plan? Even swapping a few nights out for a few nights in could save you enough money to make an extra loan payment.

     

  • Consolidate several loans into one.

    If you took out multiple private student loans, you may be able to bundle them into one loan. Not only does consolidation make repayment simpler, but you may also be able to reduce your interest rate and lower your monthly payments. Just be sure to look over your current loans to see if you would be losing any borrower benefits, such as principal rebates or loan cancellation benefits. Learn how you can streamline your payments with a Navy Federal consolidation loan.

  • Tackle loans in order of interest.

    Make the largest payment possible toward the highest interest loans, while paying the minimum payment on the rest. If you can't consolidate to a lower rate, this may be the next best option.

  • Make larger monthly payments than required.

    If you have the means, paying more per month toward principal can shorten your repayment period. Fewer payments mean less accumulated interest for you, saving money in the long run.

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