We will be closed in observance of the holidays on the following dates and times: December 24: Close at 2:00 p.m.; December 25: Closed all day; December 31: Close at 3:00 p.m.; January 1: Closed all day. Also, due to the UNF campus being closed for the holidays, the UNF branch will be closed from December 16 – January 1.

Reduce Your Student Loan Debt This Year

By: John Hirabayashi

Posted on 1/19/2016 12:00:00 PM

With college tuition costs soaring, more students are finding themselves in significant debt upon graduating. It's important to develop a plan of attack early to help reduce and manage debt.

Student loan debt averages about $30,000 per student, giving a hefty financial burden on individuals who typically don't have established careers. Studies have shown that carrying this debt can affect one's quality of life, often triggering anxiety and depression.

If you or your child are facing a large student loan bill, it's time to act now! The best way to combat this debt is to attack it head on. Here are tips on how to do that this year.

Pick a Payment Plan that Works

There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to paying off your loans; you'll need to figure out what works best for your unique situation. Here are some tips for approaches:

  • Pay a certain amount extra every month. This can shave thousands of dollars and years off the term of your loan.
  • Treat your student loan as your rent or mortgage. If you're living with your parents, put what you would spend on housing into your loan. This will also help you determine if you have the money to live on your own.
  • Focus on the loans that have the highest interest first. If you haven't consolidated, one loan may have significantly higher interest rates. This can waste a ton of money, so tackle it first.
  • Find out if there's an incentive to set up automatic payments.

These aren't all your payment options, but they'll help you figure out a direction that works for you. A loan repayment calculator may also be able to assist you with your repayment plan.

Know Your Options

You may have assistance or debt forgiveness available depending on what you do. Here are some examples:

  • Government employees can receive up to $10,000 per year through the Student Loan Repayment Program
  • Medical professionals, including nurses and veterinarians, can qualify for assistance, especially working in a critical shortage area
  • AmeriCorps volunteers who serve at least 12 months will receive a stipend plus close to $5,000 that can be used for student loan repayment
  • PeaceCorps volunteers can receive a partial cancelation of a Perkins loan, plus deferment options on Perkins, Stafford and Consolidation Loans
  • Employees who have worked in public service for at least 10 years and made at least 120 loan payments may qualify for loan forgiveness

This is only a sampling of what you may find, so be sure to research your options.

Create a Better Budget

Simply managing your money more efficiently can open up more money to put towards a loan. Try the following:

  • Skip gym memberships and exercise outside or purchase your own weights
  • Check your wireless bill to see if you have a data plan you don't need
  • Research car insurance quotes to make sure you have the best deal
  • If you're a responsible credit card user, sign up for a card with rewards

You'd be surprised how much you can save by just reviewing your budget.

Get Help From Professionals

If you have questions or need help, contact a professional. Beware of scams asking for money in exchange for consolidating or refinancing your student loan; it's free to apply and get assistance with this. We're always happy to help you at Community First Credit Union.