Should You Pay off Student Loans or Save for Retirement?
How can you address all of your obligations at once? Read our tips for managing your debt.
Establishing your financial priorities can be tough, and when you’ve got student loan debt in the mix, it’s even more difficult to manage all of your financial responsibilities. So, how much should you save? Should you pay down your debt?
It takes Americans with student debt an average of 20 years to completely pay off their education, and the average student loan payment is $393 a month.1 But shouldn’t you be using those same years to save for retirement?
Experts recommend that you establish a solid financial base before you consider retiring your student loans ahead of schedule. Establishing your emergency savings and paying down any high-interest credit card debt should be your top two priorities. Setting up automatic contributions to a retirement account like a 401(k) or a Roth IRA is the best way to routinize your retirement savings.
If you’ve taken these steps, have extra funds, and still aren’t sure whether to pay down your student loans, consider the following:
- The interest rates on your loans. Look at the expected return on your long term savings. If your student loan interest rates are lower, you’ll want to make sure you’re squirreling away a portion of your paycheck for retirement because, over time, you’ll probably earn more on your investments than you’ll save on paying down your loan balances early. By investing while you are young, you’ll also give your money more time to grow.
- The types of loans you have. If you have private student loans, which typically carry higher interest rates than federal loans, you may want to consider student loan refinancing, which allows you to combine your loans and decrease your overall interest rate.
- Your comfort with debt. This is a personal decision. If you’re anxious to be debt-free, consider making extra monthly student loan payments while you’re building your emergency savings. The more quickly you’re able to pay off your student loans, the more cash you will have to invest for retirement.
For more on how to lower your interest payments, explore our student loan refinancing program, with a special discount for alumni and their families.