Strategies for Tackling Student Loan Debt
Student loan obligations now affect an increasing number of individuals and managing student debt repayments can be very challenging. Fortunately, there are strategies to get some relief while taking advantage of timely tax breaks at the same time.
Here are four tax-saving tactics to help lessen the burden of repaying student loans:
Deduct student loan interest. The IRS allows you to deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest payments on your tax return each year. The great thing about this deduction is you can take it even if you don’t itemize! Each loan provider should issue you a Form 1098-E if you pay over $600 in interest for the year. If you pay less than that, and you don’t receive a Form 1098-E, save your monthly statements as back up for the interest you pay. Even if you are still in school, and you are making interest payments, you are eligible for the deduction.
Exclude cancelled debt as income. In most cases the IRS considers cancelled debt as income. However, the IRS recently announced that students would not have to report cancelled student loans as income in the following situations:
The school closed when you were attending, or shortly after you attended.
The school actions are contradictory to applicable laws.
You are a part of a successful legal settlement against the school.
If you receive a Form 1099-C for cancelled student loan debt, conduct research to determine if one of these exclusions applies to your situation.
Refinance to lower payments. Are you making two or more different student loan payments every month? Refinancing multiple accounts into one loan can lower your effective interest rate and your monthly payment. You can also lower your monthly payment by taking an existing loan and refinancing over a greater number of years.
Plan for tuition costs. Utilizing student loans to finance your education is a necessity for many people. However, you can cut down on future payments with early savings. For example, parents and grandparents can create 529 college savings plans. As soon as you start earning income, earmark a portion of every paycheck for college. Grants and scholarships are another way to reduce tuition costs, so start researching early.
While college loan debt can seem daunting, a combination of long-term planning while taking advantage of tax benefits will hopefully make the mountain of debt become a more manageable hill.