How to Determine Your “First Year Salary” For Student Loans

How do you determine your first year salary before you even graduate?

Flickr user VIA Agency

You may have already heard that it’s a smart idea to keep your student loan debt under your first year’s salary after you graduate. This tactic can help you save money and pay off your debt in a shorter time frame. However, you’re not a psychic and most likely no one in your family is either. How do you know what your first year salary will be? While you can’t get an exact number, you might be able to get a pretty close estimate.

Look at Prospective Jobs

If you already have a planned (or semi-planned) career path for after college graduation, you will want to start there. Head to job boards and LinkedIn to see what those careers you’re interested in are paying for entry-level. Take into account the different opportunities and companies, but also look at the area. Will you be moving somewhere else after graduation or are you planning to stay in the nearby area? Income and standard of living vary from state to state, and even sometimes from city to city.

These jobs can give you a bit more insight into how much you may be making in four years. Remember though that this is clearly an estimate. You may not land your dream job or even the right job immediately after college—it may take time—so keep that in mind.

Ask Your Financial Aid Office For Help

Your college’s financial aid office does more than let you know how much aid you’re getting. They can be a great resource when it comes to discovering how much your payments will be after you graduate and how you can pay it off quickly.

If you’re not exactly sure what job you’ll be going after or how much you’ll be making, you can talk to them for advice and direction. They deal with this situation ever year for incoming freshman; they’re the experts.

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Don’t Borrow Everything You’re Offered

Between federal, state, school, and private loans, you may be offered quite a bit. Just because you’re offered the money though, doesn’t mean you have to take it. It’s not free money. You will have to pay that back with interest.

Borrow what you need. If you need assistance with this number, it’s time to head to the financial aid office again. However, think about the pros and cons of each loan offer. You may want to cross out the ones with the highest interest rates or ones that don’t have a lot of options when it comes to repayment. Weigh your options before deciding and think about your own personal plans and goals.

There is no easy answer for determining just how much your first year salary will be after graduation. However, these steps can help you make a very educated guess and help you understand exactly what to expect. If you can’t figure it out yourself, definitely ask for assistance. Taking out the correct amount can save you from even more debt and headaches in the future.

Compare lenders and interest rates side by side with College Raptor’s free Student Loan Finder!


Lender Rates (APR) Eligibility
Citizens logo.
6.98%-15.04%* Variable
5.99%-14.00%* Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Sallie Mae logo.
6.37% - 16.70% Variable
4.50% - 15.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Credibe company logo.
4.98% - 16.85% Variable
4.07% - 16.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Lendkey company logo.
6.07% - 11.31% Variable
4.39% - 10.39% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Ascent company logo.
6.24% - 15.85% Variable
4.29% - 15.76% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
6.54% - 11.08% Variable
3.95% - 8.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Earnest company logo.
5.62% - 16.85% Variable
4.39% - 16.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
4.98% - 12.79% Variable
8.42% - 13.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
College Raptor is not a loan lender and does not assume responsibility for suggesting a loan to a user who may not be eligible for it. Rates, terms, conditions, eligibility, approval, and other considerations are the decisions of the lenders and may vary depending on which lender or marketplace the user selects. We urge users to carefully consider and review all loan options and terms before committing to taking out a loan.

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