When eliminating your student loans is a top priority it helps to have a plan for managing what you owe. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing a payment which can slow down your payoff progress and hurt your credit. If you don’t have a solid strategy in place for keeping track of your progress, taking advantage of these five must-have tools to pay off student loan debt can get you to finish line that much faster.
1. Student loan calculator
A good student loan calculator is the most basic tool you can use to manage your debt. You can use the calculator to estimate how long it’ll take you to pay off your loans, based on your balance, interest rate, current income and the repayment plan you choose. You should also be able gauge how much faster you can knock out the loans by adding more money to your payment each month.
There are several calculators to choose from but the Department of Education’s Repayment Estimator is a good place to start if you took out federal loans. Wells Fargo offers a calculator for students who owe private loans. Taking advantage of these free resources allows you to get an idea of what you’ll pay interest so you know exactly how much the debt is costing you in the long run.
Keeping tabs on your student debt can be a hassle if you took out multiple loans from different lenders but Tuition.io is the perfect solution. It’s been called the “Mint for student loans,” thanks to its easy-to-use platform that allows borrowers to organize all of their loans in one place. Instead of having to log in to each loan servicer’s website, which is something Mint.com users may still have to do, Tuition.io lets you access all of your accounts in one place.
Each user’s loan accounts are listed individually and balances are updated regularly to reflect payments made or interest accrued. You can track your progress using a customized graph so it’s easy to see how your balance has declined over time. There’s also a sliding scale feature that lets you see how much money you could save in interest by increasing your monthly payment. If you’re having trouble keeping up with your obligations, Tuition.io also offers a breakdown of your repayment options. See MyBankTracker’s review of Tuition.io.
If federal loans don’t cover the cost of your education, it may be necessary to take on private loans, which usually carry a higher interest rate. When a significant chunk of your monthly payment is going straight to the interest, scoring a better rate should be a top priority. Many borrowers, however, aren’t sure where to turn to find a refinancing deal. Fortunately, Credible is taking the guesswork out of the process.
Credible is a comparison site that lets you enter in your loan information to see how your loan terms match up with those of your peers. If it looks like others are getting a better deal on their loans, you can apply for a refinance through the site with one of nine participating lenders.
Credible doesn’t actually broker the loans and you’re not obligated to accept a lender’s refinance terms if you decide to apply. Taking advantage of this free service can save you some time, since you’re not having to track down lenders individually and it makes it much easier to compare the numbers side-by-side.
LoanLook is another one-stop student loan management tool that’s available to both parents and students alike. The site allows users to track both federal and private loans, including PLUS loans through a personal dashboard. Parents and their children can set up individual logins or link their accounts to view all of the loan obligations for a particular student at one time.
There’s a mobile app to help you stay on top of your loans on the go and you can sign up to receive text or email alerts to notify you of upcoming payments due or other activity on your loan accounts. The site also offers a number of resources to help you better manage your debt, including loan calculators, budgeting tools and savings calculators. If you have a question that you can’t find an answer to, a live chat with a trained loan counselor is just a click away.
5. Student Loan Hero
If you’re looking for ways to cut the amount of money you’re spending on your loans, Student Loan Hero is ready to save the day. Once you create an account, you’ll be able to view all of your loans in one place, along with a complete breakdown of what your debt is costing you individually and altogether based on the monthly payment, interest rate and how much you owe. The site takes the pain out of creating a customized repayment plan that fits with your financial situation.
Not only that, Student Loan Hero users have a ton of free resources to choose from to help manage their debt, including a number of calculators that let you see how much interest you’d save if you refinanced, the amount of interest that would accrue if you went into deferment or forbearance and whether it’s better to pay your loans off early or start investing. If you’re looking to refinance private loans, you’ll also find a rundown of your options along with links to participating lenders.