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When it comes time to repay your student loans, you may be wondering how much you should actually send to your lender in each month. As with credit cards, paying the minimum may not always be the best idea. So how much should you pay?

Depends on Your Financial Situation

There is no straight answer to how much you should pay when your student loans come due after you graduate or leave school. Every person will be different and it really depends on your own personal financial situation. However, paying the minimum each month can increase the amount of interest you accrue each year, so it may not be in your best interest to pay the lowest amount possible.

If you can afford it, it is wise to put more towards your student loans than the lender’s suggested amount. This allows you to pay the loan off faster, accrue less interest, and potentially increase your credit.

When to Pay the Minimum

In some cases, you may have to pay the minimum your lender requires. This is usually due to financial restraints, especially when you’re straight out of college and don’t have a job yet. Although federal loans have a six month grace period, private loans don’t always offer the same luxury. You will be required to at least pay the minimum to avoid ruining your credit and paying late fees.

You may also have to pay the minimum if you are short on cash, even when you’re settled in your career. As long as you pay this amount, you won’t accrue late fees.

Student Loan Repayment Tips

The best thing you can do to determine how much you should pay towards your student loans each month is to create a budget. Take some time and figure out how much money you have to pay towards bills, rent, car payments, food, insurance, minimum loan repayment and other expenses. Don’t forget to account for the occasional fun activity and a savings account.

Once you’ve determined your budget for each month, you will know how much extra cash you can put towards your student loans. Ideally this should be at least the minimum, if not more. If you find yourself short or it’s not quite the amount you wanted to pay towards your debt, you should go back, rework your budget, and cut unneeded expenses.

If you find no matter how you rework your budget, you can’t afford the minimum payment, talk to the lender. There may be options to lower the amount due each month.

It really is in your best interest to pay as much as you can afford to each month towards your student loans. The faster they are paid off, the less you have to worry in the future and the less interest you will have to spend over the next few years. However, always make sure it is within your budget. If you find yourself short every few months, it is okay to pay the minimum once in a while to make sure you don’t incur late fees.

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