- Private student loans aren’t eligible for forgiveness like federal student loans are.
- Refinancing your private student loans can net you a better rate and a lower monthly payment.
- There are also multiple state loan assistance programs for people working in certain professions.
- Read more of Insider’s student loan coverage here.
Financial institutions like banks,
, and online lenders originate private student loans, which frequently have higher interest rates than federal loans and fewer repayment options. Lending decisions are often based on creditworthiness, and you may need a cosigner.
If you have federal student loans, you have options to have your loans forgiven, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Income-Driven Repayment Plans. These aren’t available for private loans, though. Additionally, if the Biden administration were to forgive student loans on a nationwide scale, private student loans wouldn’t be eligible.
While your options are more limited with private loans, there are ways to get a lower rate or monthly payment. These strategies can help you save money immediately and/or in the long term.
1. Refinance your loans for a lower or singular monthly payment
The rate you initially qualified for when you took out your private student loans may be higher than the rate you’re eligible for now, especially if you’ve improved your financial situation and creditworthiness. You can refinance with the same lender or shop around to see if you can find a better rate elsewhere.
You can also refinance to extend your term length, which would lower your monthly payments — though if you keep the same interest rate, you’ll end up paying more in total interest over the life of your loan.
It may also be difficult to keep track of different monthly payments, especially if you have loan with multiple lenders that carry different interest rates. You can combine both private and federal student loans into a singular loan by refinancing your loans, making it easier to stay on top of your responsibilities. Be careful before refinancing your federal loans though, as you’ll lose key protections, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Income-Driven Repayment Plans in the process.
2. Check out loan payment assistance programs
Some states have programs that help you make loan payments if you work in certain professions. You’ll need to check with your state to find out the availability of these programs for you, but here are examples of states that have these options in place currently:
Forbearance is an option that allows you to temporarily pause your student loan payments. You’ll need to reach out to your lender to see if it offers forbearance. While interest will likely still accrue during a period of nonpayment, you might get a much needed financial reprieve by not having to make full payments each month.
However, forbearance isn’t a long-term solution. The interest that capitalizes at the end of the nonpayment period could add hundreds of dollar to the total cost of your loan.
Some lenders have specific programs in place to help you if the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you financially. This includes some emergency forbearance options that may be different or more lenient than the lender’s standard forbearance options.
While private student loans aren’t eligible for forbearance in the same way federal student loans are, you still have options if you’re struggling to keep up with your payments.