Student Debt? What you need to know to graduate from your student loan.

#Managing your money

Use these tips to make a plan to get you debt-free as soon as possible.

If you’re a recent graduate with a student loan to repay, there are ways to manage it  – to help you when you’re  starting your career.


With the following tips, and the help of an advisor, you’ll be on your way to paying off your student loan.

Government programs

The government gave you your loan and, in some cases, they’re willing to help you pay it off. There are provincial and territorial loan forgiveness programs that may provide you some relief . Check to see if you’re eligible for these programsOpens a new website in a new window.

Meanwhile the Canada Student Loan Debt Forgiveness program can help those in specific circumstancesOpens a new website in a new window.

Use the grace period wisely

If your loan repayment program offers an interest-free, payment-free period, use that time to live within your loan repayment plan. Budget your living expenses accordingly and set aside the monthly payment that you’ll make when you begin paying back your loan. These “practice months” allow you to get a feel for the budget that you’ll have to live within. With the money you set aside for your imagined payment, you’ll have built a cushion for those months when your payment is due before payday or if you have an unexpected expense.

Learn about your loan

Just like sports, you can’t play the game if you don’t know the rules. Each loan is different and some basics you’ll need to understand are: 

  • Loan payments – when are your payments due? How is interest calculated? Can you save by switching to bimonthly or weekly payments?
  • Loan forgiveness – are you eligible? How do you apply? See the links above but check back every few months in case new loan forgiveness programs arise.
  • Fees in case of insufficient funds – many lenders charge a fee if they attempt an automatic withdrawal and the account has insufficient funds. Your bank may charge an additional fee for the declined transaction.
  • Additional payments – whether you have extra funds each month to apply to your loan or you receive an unexpected amount of money, using it to pay down your loan means you could be debt-free even sooner.

Take the time to understand how your loan and repayment schedule work. This will help you maximize your ability to pay it back.

Whatever your student loan situation is, these tips will help get you closer to knocking out your student debt.
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Negotiate the terms

Lenders generally set manageable loan repayment schedules and it’s best to pay off the loan as quickly as possible to avoid interest fees. But if you’re struggling to make ends meet each month, ask the lender if it’s possible to adjust your payments without penalty.

Budget to continue your post-secondary lifestyle

This might mean a few more ramen meals and borrowing a dress to wear to a party. The lifestyle habits that you establish now will determine how much money you can put toward your student loan.

Take a side gig

If you enjoy things like concerts or the latest iPhone, consider taking on another part-time job a few evenings per week to help cover those expenses.

Find your motivation

If you bring your travel mug of coffee to work and pack a lunch, you’re already in the mindset of making smart financial decisions. These small decisions can add up to a significant difference in your budget – if you’re motivated to make them consistently. If you like visuals, track your loan repayment schedule in a spreadsheet and see the amount owing shrink each month. If you’re driven by rewards, divide your loan amount into four and treat yourself each time you pay off a quarter of your student loan.

Have no regrets

Whether you’ve found a job in your desired field or not, remember that education is a great investment in yourself. Recent studies showOpens a new website in a new window that it may take some post-secondary grads longer to find a job, but they eventually fare better financially in the longer term.

Whatever your student loan situation is, these tips will help get you closer to knocking out your student debt. If you’re still looking for guidance on how to wipe it out, a financial security advisor can help create a plan to repay your student loan with a lifestyle that works for you.

The information provided is based on current laws, regulations and other rules applicable to Canadian residents. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. Rules and their interpretation may change, affecting the accuracy of the information. The information provided is general in nature, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for advice in any specific situation. For specific situations, advice should be obtained from the appropriate legal, accounting, tax or other professional advisors.


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