1. Don’t ignore the debt. “Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it will magically be repaid for you,” cautions Burr.
2. Read the fine print and know the repayment guidelines. “I read through my grad school loans after the fact and owed nearly $15,000 more than I expected,” he recalls. “You need to know when your payments are due, how much the minimum payment is, and how much you plan to pay each month before you sign.”
5. Make more than minimum payments every chance you get. “I was paying almost four times the minimum payment because it was important to me to achieve the goal that I set,” remembers Burr. “I looked at the student loan site every day and watched the interest accrue, and the more I knocked the base down, the less I would pay in interest.”
6. Start paying immediately. If you can, don’t wait for the six-month grace period to end to make payments, advises Burr. “As soon as I got my first check, I made a payment. You’ll pay less interest if you start making payments in a hurry, and it gets you into a routine. If you’re disciplined up front, you’ll be far ahead of everybody else.”
7. Pay more than once per month if possible. “The more often you pay, the more you’ll be able to knock your interest down,” Burr explains. “I tried to keep it at zero as much as I could.” And while it’s advisable to check with your lender to make sure you aren’t tripped up by any limits on payment frequency, Burr says that even though he sometimes paid six or seven times a month, he never ran into any limits.
14. Track your payments closely. Burr, who found that watching his declining balance was enough motivation to keep up his payments, recommends using a third-party site to manage payments (like Tuition.io), or getting familiar with your lender’s website.
15. Take advantage of discounts. There are potential discounts for repayment, automatic monthly deductions, and loan consolidation. “Simply signing up for automatic deductions — saying they could take the money straight from my bank account once a month — got me a discount of 0.25%,” Burr remembers.