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If you can free up money to make extra payments on your student loans, you'll pay off your debt faster and save money in the process.
Use the below student loan payoff calculator to see how much sooner you can pay off your student loans. You can also check out the student loan amortization schedule that shows how much money you can save in interest.
Student loan payoff calculator
How extra student loan payments work
Say, for example, you borrow $20,000 in student loans with an interest rate of 5%. Your monthly payment on a standard 10-year term would be $212. By the end of the loan, you'll have paid $5,456 in interest.
But if you paid an extra $100 a month toward that loan, you can pay it off nearly four years sooner and save $2,000 in interest.
The higher your extra payments, the more money you're putting toward your principal balance. And as your balance decreases, so does the amount of interest you're charged. Plus, you will see your debt-free date much sooner.
If you don't have cash to spare, try making biweekly student loan payments instead — it’s a simple way to trick yourself into making one full extra payment each year.
Apply extra student loan payments toward the principal
You may need to let your lender or servicer know that want extra payments to go toward the principal. Otherwise, the money may go toward the next month’s interest payment.
Contact your lender or servicer to find out how you can ensure extra payments will be applied to your principal. Here are some ways you may be asked to do it:
In writing. Some lenders require a written request for extra payments to go toward the principal.
On the phone. If you make a payment by phone, you may need to ask verbally.
On your check. If you send a check by mail, add “apply to principal” to the memo line.
Other opportunities to pay off student loans faster
If you can’t make an extra student loan payment every month, look for opportunities throughout the year to increase your payment or make larger, one-time payments. Here are a few events to consider:
Windfall money. Windfall money can come in the form of a gift, job bonus, legal settlement or inheritance. You can use this money to make an extra student loan payment.
Tax refund. When you file your tax return each year, you might get a federal or state tax refund.
Pay raises. If you get a raise, you can apply the additional money each paycheck toward your student loans.
These are all great ways to pay down your student debt faster, but look at your overall finances to make sure you're not skimping on higher priorities. Higher-interest debt, like credit card debt, will cost you more in the long run. You may want to prioritize extra payments toward this debt before aggressively tackling your student loans.
Similarly, if you haven't been able to build an emergency fund or your retirement savings, try to establish these before paying off your student loans faster.
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