Back to Blog Home

Taking Control of Your Student Loans

Now that you’ve graduated (and congratulations, by the way!), here are some strategies for getting your student loans paid off as quickly and smoothly as possible. The following is an excerpt from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and you can read the full article for more.

Know what you owe. Make a list of your student loans. Include whether they’re private or federal, monthly payment and due date, the current and principal balances, the interest rates, and servicer. If you’re not sure, start by checking your free credit report. For federal loans, it will also help to know what type of loan it is (such as PLUS, subsidized, or unsubsidized) and the name of your repayment plan. You can look up your federal loans at

See if your loans fit into your budget and pay schedule. Make a budget and explore strategies for reducing debt to help you see how your student loans fit into your finances. Request a different due date if that would make it easier for you to make your payments on time and in full.

Make sure your federal repayment plan is the best one for you. You can use Education Department’s Loan Simulator to compare plans by monthly payment, total interest, and more.

Save yourself time and money

Set up direct debit (aka autopay) for 0.25% off your interest rate. With direct debt, your payment is taken automatically from your bank account each month. All federal direct loans and many private lenders offer this discount.

Extra payments can get you out of debt faster and save you money on interest—if you can afford them. To get the full benefit, tell your servicer to apply extra payments to your highest interest rate loan(s) first.

Stay in touch with your servicer. Make sure your servicer has your current mailing address, phone number, and email address. Open their mail and answer their calls so you find out about problems quickly, before consequences snowball.

Keep good records. Save all the mail from your servicer. Take notes when you talk on the phone with them: jot down the date, the name of the person you’re talking to, what you asked, and how they answered.

Claim your student loan interest on your tax return. Depending on your income and tax filing status, you may be able to claim up to $2,500 of the student loan interest you paid in a given year.

If your payment is too high, seek income-driven repayment rather than a pause on payments. Pauses, known as deferment and forbearance, are not long-term solutions. Interest continues to accrue during forbearance for all federal loans and during deferment for unsubsidized loans, which could make them more expensive than enrolling in an income-driven repayment plan, especially the new SAVE plan.