Can You Pay Off Student Loans While Teaching English in Thailand?

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Can You Pay Off Student Loans While Teaching English in Thailand?

In my 10 years of living in Thailand, I’ve met many English teachers with student loans. After all, when people graduate from university in the US, and in the UK now in increasing numbers since university costs skyrocketed, student loans are a fact of life for most of them.

Some graduates, however, worry about being able to pay off student loans while teaching in Thailand, so they put off going. In most cases that means they will never teach English overseas, as boyfriends, wives and children appear on the scene and influence what they can do feasibly do with their lives.

That’s why, if you want to teach English in Thailand even if you do have student loans, now is the time to do it and, believe it or not, it’s not that hard. Here are a few ways you can.

Defer payment of your student loans – If you don’t want to have to worry about paying student loans while you’re teaching in Thailand, you can defer payment of your loan until you come back. All you need to do is contact the loan servicer you took out your student loan through and find out how long you can defer it for, along with if you will still need to pay the interest every month or not.

I deferred my student loan for two years when I graduated from university as I took a job at a non-profit with a low salary. The loan company had no problem with my deferring it, and just asked that i pay the interest every month. At around $15, that was perfectly doable. When I did start paying off my loan, however, I made sure I paid extra every month so I still ended up paying the loan off on time.

If you are American, for more information about deferring payment of your student loan, or anything else you might need to know, check out the excellent Federal Student Aid website.

Teach private students – If you have your heart set on teaching English in a country like Thailand, that doesn’t mean you can’t afford to go if you have a student loan. Many teachers in Thailand take on private students to earn some extra cash, and that money goes to pay their student loans.

Most western teachers charge at least 600 baht an hour for a private class. At the current exchange rate, that’s around $19.50 an hour, so you only need to do a few hours a week and you’ll be able to pay your student loan payment easily.

In fact, I know a couple of younger American teachers who are doing just that in Thailand right now. One has three private students, who each meet her in a local coffee shop once a week for a one-on-one class.

From those three students, she makes 8,400 baht a month ($273), which she says not only gives her enough money to pay her student loan but also almost $70 left over for shopping or a few nice meals out with friends.

I have always believed if you really want to do something, there are always ways to ensure you can. Teaching English in Thailand while paying off a student loan can easily be done, particularly if you plan ahead a little bit before you leave.