How to start paying off your student loans

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Tips to kickstart your repayment journey 

Congratulations! You’ve graduated and it’s time to start the next chapter. And if you’ve got them, it also means it’s time to start paying back your student loans. Let’s be real, getting those first few bills can be scary. But with the right strategies and mindset, you can start off strong and put yourself on the right track to being debt free. Here are some things to know before getting started. 

Set yourself up for success

Know your loan. I’m talking inside and out. Familiarize yourself with all the details—interest rates, due dates, monthly payments—everything. This will give you a clear overview of your debt and help inform any decisions you make now and in the future.

Download the app. (If your lender has one.) It makes managing your loans super easy. You can look over your balances, make payments, change your info, and more. Plus, you can check in on-the-go, at home, or wherever you want. It’s everything you need all in one convenient place.   

Sign up for auto debit. Your payments will always be on time because it keeps track of your due date for you. Plus, you can save some cash—with Sallie Mae ®, it’s a 0.25% interest rate discount.footnote 1

Talk to your cosigner. If you have one, it’s a good idea to have regular conversations with your cosigner to keep them in the loop. First things first, make sure they set up their own account so they have full access to all the loan details. And even though it’s not a fun topic, discuss what happens if you hit a rough financial patch and can’t make payments. 

Create a budget. Budgeting is key when it comes to staying on top of your finances. Take some time to analyze your income and expenses, then figure out exactly what you can put toward your loan each month. Look for places you can cut back on spending (streaming services, takeout, etc.) so you can save as much as possible. Need some help? Start with this budgeting worksheet.

Make extra payments. It comes with tons of benefits. Paying just a little bit extra toward your minimum each month will save you money in the long run. Even if you’re just rounding up to the nearest dollar—it counts (that’s how I paid off my loans) and will bring you closer to your goals. 

Treat yourself. Celebrate milestones and keep yourself motivated as you track your progress and watch your debt disappear.

Take this one payment at a time 

Tackling student loans—and even thinking about them—can be overwhelming. But remember, you’re not alone in this and there are things you can do to put yourself on the right path. Just take things one step and one payment at a time—and cut yourself some slack along the way.

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Say it with me—debt free ASAP!

It’s normal to be nervous about starting your repayment journey (I know I was). And while it may seem like a lot at first, with the right support, you can get through it with confidence. 

You got this!

footnote Sallie Mae does not provide, and these materials are not meant to convey, financial, tax, or legal advice. Consult your own financial advisor, tax advisor, or attorney about your specific circumstances.

footnote External links and third-party references are provided for informational purposes only. Sallie Mae cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided by any third parties and assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions contained therein. Any copyrights, trademarks, and/or service marks used in these materials are the property of their respective owners.

footnote Sallie Mae, the Sallie Mae logo, and other Sallie Mae names and logos are service marks or registered service marks of Sallie Mae Bank. All other names and logos used are the trademarks or service marks of their respective owners. 

footnote 1. The borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan.

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