After graduation, many of our visions of the ideal career don’t come to fruition. Even though going to college is still the best way to build a career for yourself, the reality is that job hunting isn’t easy and definitely not always fair. To make ends meet, you might take on a part-time job in your field or even an unrelated industry. But student loans are still looming over you and making you wonder whether you could ever live a future without crippling debt. Even if you’re earning a lot less than you envisioned after graduating, there are ways to make student loan debt more manageable. For part-time employees or freelancers, here are some tips for paying back your student loans with a small income.
Look into PAYE and REPAYE Programs
For federal Direct student loans, there are two programs that make repayment feasible even working part-time. The Pay-As-You-Earn and Revised-Pay-As-You-Earn plans are income-based, so they change according to how much you’re earning and what you can reasonably afford to contribute each month. It may take much longer to pay off your loans with these plans, but they’ll keep payments manageable and help you avoid defaulting.
We all know that some of us won’t be able to pay off our loans anytime soon. Some of us expect to carry student debt for life. That doesn’t mean you’re forced to live poorly or go without achieving certain milestones. You can have debt for decades and still keep it under control, build a decent savings and progress through life.
Look into Consolidation
If you have debt from multiple lenders, you may find that combining all of your loans into one lump sum. This can help you avoid varying interest rates and overwhelming bills each month. In this situation, consolidation could be right for you. If you use a student loan consolidation calculator, you can explore how rates with a private lender could change your budget and give you more discretionary income. Consolidating student loans isn’t as difficult as you might think. Learn all about the process so you can decide whether it’s a worthwhile choice for your future finances.
Take on a Side Hustle
Freelance side gigs or weekend jobs can be a good way to earn money that you put toward student loans. If your primary income comes from your part-time job, you can use the side gig to pay your monthly repayment without taking away from the cash you need to survive. If you took out student loans from a private lender and aren’t able to take advantage of PAYE or REPAYE programs, talk to them personally. Let them know what your current financial situation is, including how much money you have available at the end of each month after taxes, rent and other living expenses. Side gigs can help you meet the minimum payment requirement without going further into debt or facing penalties. Even if you only bring in $100 to $300 a month, you can set that aside to cover your payments and keep your part-time earnings to yourself.