How I'm repaying $120k in student loans

After I graduate with an MBA, my loan payments will be more than $1,000 a month. Here are 6 strategies I'm using to make them.

By MSN Money Partner May 16, 2012 12:49PM

This post comes from Eric Bell at partner site


In less than a month, I will graduate from my MBA program at Georgetown University with more than $120,000 in student loans at 7% interest. Six months after graduation, my grace period will end, and I will have to start repaying more than $1,000 per month.


Image: Graduation cap (© Stockdisc/SuperStock)Here is my strategy for repayment:


Earn baby, earn

The first thing I have to figure out is how to increase my income from its current level. Without more money coming in, there is no chance for me to pay down my debt and maintain my current lifestyle.


Some student loan repayment strategies I'm considering are taking on another job while I continue making money on my hobbies like blogging, graphic design and website development on nights and weekends.


Consolidate my student loans

Right now, I have 13 student loans outstanding. Once the payments start after my grace period is up, I will have a paperwork nightmare.


To simplify the repayment process and fix my interest rate, I am going to consolidate my federal student loans into one loan. Since I do not have any private student loans, I will be able to consolidate through the Direct Loan Consolidation program and avoid paying loan consolidation fees.


Pick the best repayment plan

There are several student loan repayment plans available to borrowers. Recently, a new plan was created called the Income-Based Repayment Plan.


When I started my business in school, I chose to take a lower salary so I could reinvest more in my company's growth. As a result, my adjusted gross income was relatively low last year and the income-based repayment plan may be the best option for me. It may not be the same for other borrowers, so make sure to consider your repayment options and find the best repayment plan for your situation.


Manage and track spending

One of the keys to successful student loan repayment is creating a budget and sticking to it every month. Personally, I use this budget and cash flow worksheet to track where my money goes and set spending goals each month.


No matter what your method, find a way to hold yourself accountable so you never miss a payment on your student loans.


Rapid repayments

There are a couple of strategies I plan to employ to reduce the amount of interest I pay on my student loans. First, I am going to make a payment every two weeks, rather than one payment each month. This method is called rapid repayment.


By paying every two weeks rather than once a month, I will reduce the amount of interest I pay over the life of my loan. Additionally, rapid repayment forces me to apply one additional payment to my loan each year. If I pay once a month, I make 12 payments per year. If I pay every two weeks, I make 26 bi-weekly payments, or the equivalent of 13 months of payments each year.


Apply future bonuses and gifts toward debt repayment

Debt repayment requires discipline and sacrifice. While I want to take bonuses and gifts and buy fun stuff, I simply cannot. The top priority after graduation is to eliminate my student loan debt as quickly as possible. In the past, my priority was building up my emergency savings fund. My new goal is to repay my debt.

The choice is simple. Repaying my student loans is the equivalent to putting my money into something that returns a fixed rate of 7% each year. With interest rates on savings accounts and CDs paying low interest rates, it makes more sense to apply excess cash toward debt repayment. So whenever I get extra cash in my bank account, I will use it to pay off my loans first.


More on and MSN Money:


May 16, 2012 2:21PM

Wow. I hope you got a degree in a field that will allow you to repay your loan(s). You've got a good outlook, but... wow... That's a tremendous "amount of return" you need to get for that degree right off the bat. Not a great way to be starting out in the world.

May 17, 2012 9:35AM
So the $120k degree has taught him the secret to paying off a loan quicker than someone without a degree - earn more.  What a revelation!!!
May 16, 2012 7:50PM
Make sure your lender will allow you to make partial payments every two weeks.  Some may consider you delinquent because no single payment will cover the month's scheduled payment.
May 17, 2012 3:41PM
You just have to work hard and smart!  It will be overwhelming at first, but ten years from now you student loan will be the least amount of your monthly expense. I wouldn't focus too much on paying it off early.  I would focus on refinancing it to lower interest rate first.  Grow your business and make it happen!
May 17, 2012 3:40PM
You just have to work hard and smart!  It will be overwhelming at first, but ten years from now you student loan will be the least amount of your monthly expense. I wouldn't focus too much on paying it off early.  I would focus on refinancing it to lower interest rate first.  Grow your business and make it happen!
May 18, 2012 7:40AM

There is a way to do this cheaper---

Altho "we" (my husband & I, combned) didn't borrow $120k the several thousand we owed when we both were through in the earli '70ies seemed like that much to us!  We 'paid' it off by limiting ourselves to  jobs that qualified for a partial % forgiveness working in goverment designated area of poverty(jobs primarly in education), OR by only applyingto an employer (health care jobs) who would pay a % off each year as a job benefit.  By the time those loans were 'forgiven' my husband went back for his Master's--again through a government program.  Years later, I went back for mine trhough a philantrophic program aimed at inpacting health care in underserved areas.  Combined, our entire education was free--except for one year's payment when we failed to find a job in one of those "designated" areas.  No matter what kind of areas you'd like to live, urban (think: inner city) or rural (think; underserved), you can.  The pay isn't stellar but the work is satisfying & the benefits are good.  And hey, I was able to retire at 59 1/2--the living costs, especially in the rural ares, are cheaper!

May 17, 2012 10:57AM

Truely amazing that someone who got a MBA would be so dumb.  The fault is almost entirely on him, but there are contributors to the crime.  Politicians, colleges, etc., talking and encouraging these young folks to dig themselves into this hole.


What could he have done to at least minimize these debts?  Fairly easy, yet nobody has the guts to be honest with the easy debt trap that has been laid out.  He should have worked to pay part of it as he went or take a semester off to build funds.  Secondly, he could have got a job where an employer would pay for some if not all of the costs.


Many students get loans for living expenses, etc.  IMO, people make bad choices, as this guy has done.

May 16, 2012 2:06PM
Only an idiot borrows that kind of money to get a college degree.  And at 7% interest to boot.  This person will have to earn about $1500/mo pretax to pay off a $1078/mo payment for 15 years. 
May 18, 2012 12:27PM
I can not for the life of me figure out why someone would burden themselves with so MUCH debt!  
You gotta be completely crazy!  By working and paying as you go you would be able to put that $1000.00 a month payment to work for YOU.  Instead of giving $195,000.00 to a lender if you put $1000.00 a month into an investment yielding 1% for the same period you would actually have, in your possession approximately $195,000.00 for a difference of a WHOPPING $390,000.00!  That's a lotta dough!
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