We wrote yesterday about Common Student Loan Missteps and mentioned that one of the pitfalls can be a lack of understanding about your student loans. One of the things that can help you get a grip on your debt is understanding the numbers. Student loans are all about principal and interest which is just math. But even for finance majors, figuring out how interest is capitalized and what the true cost of your debt is can be a hassle.
So today we offer you some calculators and tools to help you understand and tackle your debt:
Standard Loan Calculator – This is provided by FinAid which is a great resource for info on student loans. This is the best starting tool to take a glance at the impact of a loan. Input your balance and interest rate and leave the term at 10 years. Delete the minimum payment and you can skip the rest of the info if you’re out of school. Click print payment schedule for a detailed look at your loan. Click calculate.
Scroll down to the bottom of the results screen to see a detailed schedule.
This shows how each payment is applied and how much will go to principal and how much to interest and how this changes as the loan matures. This is great info to help you understand your loans.
Student Loan Comparison Calculator – This is provided by the Department of Education and offers a simple interface that lets you compare different loan setups. All you need to input is the loan balance and interest rate and click enter on your keyboard. You’ll get a quick snapshot of the monthly payments and total paid under the standard, extended, extended graduated and graduated repayment plans.
Click Details to see how much you’ll pay in interest and in total. This can easily allow you to see how much more an extended payment plan will cost in the long haul and why you want to avoid these like the plague!
Student Loan Consolidation Calculator – This is also provided by FinAid and is a really important calculator. Lenders and servicers try to talk borrowers into taking a consolidation when it is often not in their best interest. This calculator can easily reveal if it’s a good thing for you or not. Consolidations can often up your overall interest rate and result in higher interest charges. Input your loan information and click calculate.
The results page will show you how much you would pay individually and how much you will pay under a consolidation. Often it is more. The only time a consolidation is worth considering (usually) is if it’s your one shot at rehabilitating your loans. Read our post on consolidations for more advice!
Income Based Repayment Calculator – Provided by the DOE, this is a quick and simple calculator that will give you an indication of whether you qualify for IBR based on your marital status, family size and annual adjusted gross income. Enter these and your loan amount and click Calculate My Monthly Payments to see if you likely qualify and what the payments would be (roughly).
Pay As You Earn Repayment Calculator – Also provided by the DOE, this is another quick calculator that helps you get an idea of whether you’ll qualify for PAYE based on dates your loans were taken out, marital status, family size and annual adjusted gross income. Enter this info and your loan amount and click Calculate My Monthly Payments to see if you likely qualify and what the payments would be (roughly).
And don’t forget to add Tuition.io to your student loan toolbox! Sign up for our free student loan management and optimization tool to help you understand and get a grip on your debt. If you qualify for IBR or PAYE, check out our Student Loan Help Center for How To guides on how to apply for these affordable repayment plans.