Although the situation here isn’t s dire as it is in the United States, the average university student in Canada is thousands of dollars in debt upon graduation: $23,550 on average for those with government student loans and $14,729 for those with loans from financial institutions, according to the Canadian University Survey Consortium’s 2015 Graduating University Student Survey report.
Naturally, starting your working life with this kind of financial burden means it will take longer before you can afford to invest in things like a home, so the sooner you pay off your student debt, the better. Here are some tips from the experts on how to pay off student loans fast.
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1. Work Part Time While Studying
Wealth manager Clayton Shearer suggested to Bankrate that you start generating an income earlier by getting a part-time job while you’re a student. This way you won’t need to borrow as much and will have less to pay off later.
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2. Start Repaying While Still Studying
Wise Bread recommends that you start making loan repayments while you’re still studying. The sooner you can make a dent in the amount that you owe, the less interest you will have to pay in the end.
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3. Be Positive
According to Wise Bread, it can help to psyche yourself up and remind yourself why you’re paying off your student debt. Repeating to yourself that you can do this will help you stay positive and determined.
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4. Create a Plan
Wealth manager Clayton Shearer told Bankrate that you should create a plan to pay off your loan within a certain time period, for example three to five years. This gives you a specific goal to work towards and you’ll be more committed to paying off your loan.
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5. Use a Repayment Calculator
Wise Bread suggests that you use an online loan repayment calculator – often available on loan servicers’ websites – to calculate exactly how much you need to pay every month if you want to pay back your loan within a specific time. This will help you plan and budget.
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6. Understand the Terms
Wise Bread says that you can avoid potential problems later on by understanding the terms of your loan. For instance, you need to know whether the interest rate is fixed or variable.
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7. Apply for RAP
Wise Bread says that an income-based repayment plan might be a solution if you earn a limited income. In Canada, the Repayment Assistance Plan, or RAP, can help you reduce the amount you have to pay.
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8. Create a Loan Repayment Fund
A tip from financial planner Allan Katz to Bankrate is to open a bank account just for your student loan repayment, so you won’t be tempted to spend the money on anything else. Then have money automatically paid from your salary into this fund where it can earn interest.
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9. Make the Regular Payments on Time
Forbes says that you should make your regular loan payments on time, paying at least the minimum amount by the due date. If you default on your payments, it will have a negative impact on your credit record.
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10. Use Automatic Payments
Forbes quotes student loan consultant Jan Miller as saying that you should opt for automatic payments, since this will make it less likely for you to miss a payment.
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11. Make Larger Payments
According to Bankrate, financial planner Allan Katz suggests that you make larger payments than the minimum payments due. You’ll pay off the loan faster and pay less interest too.
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12. Make Extra Payments
Financial planner Allan Katz tells Bankrate that you should make extra payments, for example every two weeks, if you can’t make a larger payment once a month.
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13. Make Extra Payments Sooner
Speaking to Forbes, student loan consultant Jan Miller says that a day after your regular monthly payment, you should make another payment. This way, there isn’t enough time for unpaid interest to accrue.
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14. Have an Emergency Fund
Wise Bread suggests that you create a special fund for emergencies and include payments into this fund in your monthly budget until you have about $1,000 set aside. If something unexpected happens, you can then pay for it without having to dip into your student loan fund.
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15. Pay Your Debts in the Right Order
According to LearnVest in Forbes, if you have multiple student debts to pay off, you should first pay the ones with the highest interest rates. It'll help if you make a spreadsheet in which you categorize your debts in order from highest to lowest interest rates.
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16. Ask Your Employer for Help
Wise Bread suggests that you ask your employer for assistance. Some employers have an official student loan repayment program as part of the benefits they offer. Even if your employer doesn’t have an official program, they might be willing to help with your loan repayments.
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Magical Credit suggests that you look into volunteering opportunities that offer student loan repayment benefits. Volunteering also helps you build skills and experience so you can apply for better-paying jobs.
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18. Find Extra Sources of Income
LearnVest suggests in Forbes that in addition to budgeting and reducing your expenses, you find ways to increase your income so you have more money for paying off your loans. Among LearnVest’s suggestions are odd jobs, babysitting, mystery shopping and focus groups.
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19. Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness
There are several student loan forgiveness programs available in Canada, such as the federal Canada student loan forgiveness for family doctors and nurses plan. Also check with your provincial government to see if you’re eligible for student loan forgiveness.