11 Best Ways to Pay Off Student Loan Debt

Last updated on March 3, 2021

Best Ways to Pay Off Student Loan Deb

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Student loan debts can make you feel overwhelmed, given that they can accumulate huge amounts.

Additionally, they can hinder you from achieving your financial goals because they will be continuously deducted from your income.

Unlike other debts, student loan debts do not go away; they cannot be written off even if you did not graduate, are struggling to find a job, or are bankrupt.

These debts must be paid unless you are in a loan forgiveness program. These programs can help you get your student debt canceled fully or partially.

The good news is that there are some strategies that you can implement to pay this debt faster, as discussed below.

But before that, it is essential to understand why you must pay off these loan debts.

Why pay off student loans?

Student loans can immensely affect your financial health; the more reason you need to pay it off.

With huge debts, you will not afford good living standards because there will always be an amount that must be deducted from your income.

Saving for retirement will also become hard, and your credit score will deteriorate.

You could also get into legal problems if you fail to pay the student loan debt.

Where possible, pay your loan as fast as you can by making more payments. This will enable you to enjoy lower interest rates and save more money.

Here are the top ways to pay off your student loan.

1. Have a loan repayment plan

As is with accomplishing any goal in life, you need a suitable loan repayment plan which will determine the length of time it will take to clear the debt altogether.

The standard repayment plan for Direct Federal Loans is ten years, but you can choose an extended period.

There are three options; income-based plan extended repayment and graduated repayment.

The income-based plan allows you to pay the debt based on your income.

With the extended plan, you are allowed to pay within 25 years, while the graduated repayment plan requires you to pay the loan between 10 to 30 years.

You can therefore select the most suitable plan. Seek advice from your loan servicer.

Also, note that the longer you take to pay the loan, the more money you spend and vice versa.

People who pay faster enjoy lower interest rates and do not spend lots of money on this debt.

2. Make larger payments

One of the best ways to pay off student loan debts faster is paying more money than the minimum payment.

This might not be an easy thing to do, considering that you have other financial obligations.

However, whenever you can pay a more considerable amount than the one you are supposed to pay. If you spend $50 each month, paying about $55 or $60 or more would enable you to repay that debt sooner.

Review your budget and know which expenses to cut so that you can top that amount to your student loan.

You might also consult with an expert to help you calculate how these additional payments will affect your loan amount and how long it will take to pay it off completely.

While at it, let your loan servicer use the extra payments on your principal balance.

3. Consolidate your loans

In the recent past, most student loans are given through the direct loan program.

If you finished schooling several years ago, there is a possibility that you have loans with different banks.

You need to combine these loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan. This strategy has several benefits.

First, when you consolidate your loans, the repayment period starts, and you can extend the loan repayment period, which could significantly lower your payments.

It also becomes easier to be accepted in a loan forgiveness program when your loans are consolidated.

4. Have a side hustle

Having more income sources enables you to pay student loan debts faster and with little pressure.

If you are in college, it is wise to look for a source of income. The best side hustles are those you can do during your free hours so that they do not interfere with your learning schedules.

You could take up a job in the local stores or restaurants. Even better, you can start earning money online.

Today, several online jobs allow you to work part-time and earn a decent pay. And you do not need high-level qualifications to get started.

Consider jobs such as freelance writing, online tutoring, affiliate marketing, online surveys, web design, transcription, virtual assistance, and online advertising, among others.

These are also ideal extra income sources for people who completed school several years ago and are struggling to pay student loan debts with one income source.

5. Manage your finances properly

A great way to pay off student loan debts is to manage your finances properly.

You need to analyze all sources of your income and how much you make. Then review all your expenditures like grocery, rent, bills, student loans, internet, among others.

Know how much you spend on each activity.

If you are struggling to pay your student loan debt, you need to prioritize your expenses. If there are some things you can do without, then allocate lesser money or do away with them altogether.

Student loan repayment should be among your top priorities. Allocate a certain amount of money into repaying it. This will help you to become consistent and finish the debt sooner.

Getting on a tight budget can help you immensely, even though it means making certain sacrifices here and there. After all, you do not want to carry this debt all through your life.

There are apps like the Wallet App and Trim that can help you excel in financial management.

6. Have a college repayment fund

While still in school, it is crucial to think about your future and the debt that you will pay.

A great way to achieve this is by establishing a college repayment fund.

Have a side hustle, earn money and save it. Ensure that the savings are deposited into your savings account automatically.

To avoid the temptation of using your savings, make sure that you cannot easily access your money by avoiding cards and mobile apps.

This way, you will not use your money any other way apart from what it was meant for.

You can then use these savings in the future to pay your student loan debts.

7. Refinance your loans

Refinancing student loans is another effective way to clear your debts.

What this means is that you take another loan from a private lender and use it to pay off your student loan debt.

For you to qualify for this, you must have excellent credit and high-interest rates. You need to have a steady job with a consistent income.

You will also get lower interest rates because you are more financially stable than when you first took the student loan.

The only shortcoming with this strategy is that you will miss out on accessing federal programs such as loan forgiveness or income-driven repayment plans.

Some of the private lenders you can consider include College Ave, PenFed, and SoFi.

8. Apply for loan forgiveness

There are loan forgiveness programs that you should be on the lookout for. These programs can eliminate all of your student loan debt or part of it.

One of the most popular loan forgiveness programs is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

Just like the name suggests, you must be working in the public service sector, either employed by the government or a Non-Governmental Organization.

You must also be having a full-time job from a qualified employer.  Having the right student loans and using an income-driven repayment plan are also qualifications that you must meet.

This is a great loan forgiveness program, but it can be really difficult to be approved.  But it is always good to try and get it.

Another loan forgiveness program that you should consider is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program.

It is meant for teachers. For you to qualify, you must have been a teacher for at least five years and must have a loan under the Direct Loan Program.

Other qualifications vary depending on whether you taught in a public or private school and the types of subjects you teach.

The Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation program can be accessed by both graduate and undergraduate students who have financial needs.

You must have a Perkins Loan and be teaching in a low-income school to qualify.

Teaching certain subjects like science, mathematics, bilingual education, and special education also places you in a better position to be considered for this program.

Even though these forgiveness programs can be hard to access, it is wise for you to keep trying. They can eliminate all your debts or part of it and take off this financial burden from you.

9. Apply for an income-based payment

If you are struggling to settle your student loan debt, you can apply for an income-based payment plan.

With this plan, the amount you pay will be based on your discretionary income. The payment varies with your level of income.

If your income increases, your payment amount will also go up.

You can only qualify for this payment structure if you are under the Federal Direct Loans. The repayment period is 25 years, and the remaining balance can be forgiven after this period.

This plan also places you in a better position to qualify for loan forgiveness programs.

10. Take advantage of discounts

Some of the interest rates can be too high, and it can seem as though it will take a long time to clear the student loan debt.

In such cases, it is always wise to take advantage of discounts on loan repayments.

Most lenders can give you a discount of up to 0.5% on a loan. To be considered for this, you will have to set up automatic payments on your loan in what is known as autopay.

To entice debtors to pay loans faster, lenders usually offer interest rate discounts. For instance, when you pay your loan on time, you can get some deductions.

Automatic payment on loans also prevents you from forgetting to pay your loans. If you failed, you could get into some serious problems.

Talk to your loan service provider and find out if they have any discounts that you can take advantage of.

These discounts might seem small, but with time, they can accumulate huge amounts, and this will enable you to clear the debt faster.

11. Make bi-weekly payments

Let’s face it!

Student loans can be quite burdensome and can make it hard for you to achieve your financial goals. You, therefore, want to clear this debt as fast as you can.

A great way to do this is by making loan repayments every two weeks. Challenging as it may seem, you can do this.

You can split the monthly loan amount into two and pay twice. For instance, if you spend $50 on loan repayment, you can be doing $25 every two weeks.

This is mainly an excellent option for people who do not have consistent income sources and have huge balances.

Conclusion

It is hard to acquire education without a student loan, mainly because college can be quite expensive.

Therefore, it is essential to consider that you will have to pay for it in the future and plan for it.

Paying student loan debts should not be a scary thing to do. You just need to select a reasonable repayment plan and then commit to making payment consistently.

Remember, this debt cannot be written off like other debts. You must pay for it. Work on your budget and prioritize this debt.

Create more money by looking for more income streams like side hustles. This extra money will make paying the loans less burdensome.

Also, aim at paying the loans faster. Make larger payments and enjoy lower interests.

I’m Olivia Miller, founder of Dollarberg.   My goal is to equip people with the skills required to run profitable businesses from the comfort of their homes.   I teach how to make money online while working from home. In this blog, I cover blogging, work-at-home jobs, email marketing, and Pinterest marketing.   As a housewife and a mother of 3 kids, I have found a lot of freedom and flexibility working from home - and I would like you to have this fantastic experience too.   Besides work, I love spending time with my family, traveling, and swimming. Want to know more? Read more about me here.

Olivia Miller 

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