Top 10 Tips on How to Pay Off Student Loan Debt Quickly

how to pay off student loan debt
Are you feeling overwhelmed by how to pay off student loan debt? You're not alone! Millions of Americans struggle to pay off student loan debt, and it can be hard to know where to start.
If you're looking for ways to pay off your student loan debt quickly, you've come to the right place!
In this blog post, we'll provide you with our top 10 tips on how to pay off student loan debt quickly. With these strategies, you can learn how to get out of debt faster and put yourself on the path to financial freedom.

1. Create a Budget

The first step in paying off student loan debt is to create a budget. This involves determining your monthly income and expenses and allocating your money accordingly.
A zero-based monthly budget is one of the most effective budgeting methods because it forces you to account for every dollar. With this type of budget, your income minus your expenses should equal zero.
Creating a budget matters because it lets you see where your money is going and identify areas where you can cut expenses. Sticking to a budget can also help you find "extra" money to pay off your student loans.
There are several free budgeting apps available that can help you with budgeting. These apps can link to your bank accounts, track your spending, and even suggest areas where you can save money.
Some popular budgeting apps include:
By creating a budget and sticking to it, you can allocate a specific amount toward paying off your student loan debt each month. This helps you stay on track and make consistent progress toward being debt-free. 
In addition, budgeting can help you avoid overspending and accumulating additional debt, which can set you back even further in the long run.

2. Set Up Automatic Payments

Setting up automatic payments is one of the most efficient ways to pay off student loan debt. By doing so, you can ensure that your payments are made on time every month without fail.
But did you know that signing up for autopay can also help lower your loan's interest rate?
Federal student loan servicers offer a quarter-point interest rate discount for auto-pay deductions. This means that if you have a loan with an interest rate of 5.5%, signing up for automatic payments can lower it to 5.25%. While this might not seem like a significant reduction, it can add up over time.
Private lenders also offer an auto-pay deduction, so check with your lender if this option is available.
To enroll in autopay, contact your loan servicer to determine if the option is available. They can help guide you through the process and ensure your monthly payments are automatically deducted from your bank account.

3. Pay More Than the Minimum

When it comes to paying off your student loans, making larger payments than the minimum can help you become debt-free faster. The average student graduates with a staggering $38,792 in student loan debt, according to Student Loan Hero.
Finding extra money in your budget may seem challenging, but there are ways to make it happen. Consider cutting back on discretionary expenses, such as eating out or going to the movies, and diverting those funds towards your student loan payments. 
Making more than the minimum payment may require discipline and sacrifice, but it's a smart strategy to help you pay off your loans faster and save you thousands of dollars in interest over time.

4. Cut Expenses Where Possible

To pay off your student loan debt quickly, it's important to make sacrifices and cut expenses wherever possible.
It may not be easy, but achieving your financial goals is necessary. Here are some ways to do it:
  • Consider cutting cable packages or bougie subscription boxes you may not need. These monthly expenses can add up quickly and take away from money that could be put toward your loan payments.
  • You could also reduce housing costs by finding a roommate or renting out a guest room in your home.
  • Selling items you no longer need or use can also bring in extra cash for your debt. Websites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist can be great options for selling unwanted items.
  • It's also important to be mindful of your daily spending habits. Ditching expensive coffee and meals out to make your own meals and brewing your coffee can save significant money in the long run. Be savvy at the grocery store by planning your meals and buying in bulk when possible.
Remember, paying off student loan debt quickly is a journey that requires discipline and sacrifice. But it starts with being willing to make temporary sacrifices for long-term gains.

5. Increase Your Income

Increasing your income can be a game-changer. By bringing in extra money, you can put more towards your student loan payments and accelerate your journey to becoming debt-free.
One option to increase your income is to pick up a part-time job on nights or weekends. This can be a great way to earn extra cash without interfering with your full-time job or other commitments.
Many retail stores, restaurants, and delivery services often look for part-time employees, making it easier to find something that fits your schedule.
Dedicating a few extra hours each week to work can boost your income and allocate more funds toward paying off your student loans.
In addition to a part-time job, consider exploring side hustle options. The gig economy has opened up many opportunities to earn extra money outside of traditional employment, including:
  • Driving for Uber or Lyft
  • Delivering food through apps like DoorDash or Uber Eats
  • Walking dogs
  • House-sitting 
These options often allow for flexible scheduling, making it easier to fit them into your existing routine.
It's important to remember that the extra job or side hustle won't last forever. It's a temporary sacrifice aimed at helping you pay off your student loans quickly. If you have time to hang out with friends and scroll through social media, you have time to make a few extra bucks.
Every dollar earned from your additional efforts can significantly impact your debt repayment journey.
So, consider taking on an extra job or side hustle to increase your income and put yourself on the fast track to paying off your student loan debt. Remember, it's a temporary arrangement with a long-term payoff.

6. Apply Every Tax Refund and Raise Toward Your Loan

Extra income in the form of tax refunds and raises may seem like a great opportunity to upgrade your lifestyle, but when you have student loan debt to pay off, it's important to prioritize your payments.
Instead of splurging on a vacation or buying that new gadget you've been eyeing, consider putting that money toward your student loans.
Remember, you were living without the extra income before, so you can continue to do so now. It may require a bit of sacrifice in the short term, but the long-term benefits of paying off your loans early will be well worth it.
A tax refund is not free money from the government. In reality, a tax refund is money you overpaid in taxes throughout the year. So, instead of a bonus, view it as an opportunity to put a large chunk towards your student loans.
Similarly, when you receive a raise at work, don't immediately adjust your lifestyle to accommodate the extra income. Instead, put that money towards your loans to speed up the repayment process.
Remember, every little bit counts when paying off your student loans. By prioritizing your payments and applying every extra dollar towards your debt, you can pay off your loans faster and move on to a more financially secure future.

7. Use the Debt Snowball Method

One effective strategy to tackle student loan debt is the debt snowball method. This method has helped countless individuals eliminate their debts and gain financial freedom.
So, how does it work?
  1. List all your loan debts from smallest balance to largest. Then, start paying off the smallest student loan balance first. While continuing to make minimum payments on other loans, put any extra money towards paying off the first debt.
  2. After you've paid off the first debt, move to the next smallest balance, and add the payment from the first debt to the minimum of the second balance. Continue this process until all debts are paid.
Most people who use this method manage to pay off their debt in 18-24 months. The debt snowball method gives you quick wins and helps you stay motivated to continue paying off your debts.
Every time you pay off a loan, you feel a sense of accomplishment, pushing you to continue working on your remaining loans.
It's important to note that you must roll the extra payment money into the next loan payment. This way, you are continually paying down the principal amount, which will help you save money on interest in the long run.

8. Look Into Refinancing Options

Refinancing could be a good choice if you're motivated to pay off your student loans faster. Refinancing involves taking all your loans to a lender who pays them off, leaving you owing the new lender the money they fronted.
The goal is to secure a better rate and payment terms so you pay the same amount or more each month, throwing more at the principal each month and avoiding more interest.
Refinancing your student loans isn't the right move for everyone, but it can be a great option for some borrowers. Doing your homework and reading the fine print is crucial, or you could end up deeper in the hole than before.
Here are some criteria to consider:
  • If it's 100% free to refinance, it's definitely worth investigating. If you get a lower interest rate, you can reduce your monthly payment or even shorten the repayment period, saving yourself money in the long run. You can also choose to keep a fixed rate or trade your variable rate for a fixed rate, providing greater certainty.
  • It's important to note that you don't have to sign up for a longer repayment period, and you don't need a cosigner, so refinancing can be a great option if you want to simplify your repayment process. However, it's important to note that if you have recently declared bankruptcy, you might not be eligible for refinancing.

9. Don't Count on Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

While the idea of having your student loans forgiven may sound like a dream come true, it's essential to understand that it's not as easy as it sounds.
Most forgiveness programs require you to meet specific eligibility requirements, such as working in a particular field for a specific amount of time or making a certain number of payments.
In addition, forgiveness programs are often only available for federal loans, not private loans.
Instead, focus on having a well-paying job and paying off your student loans as fast as possible. Remember, taking control of your finances and being proactive is vital to paying off your student loans and achieving financial freedom.

10. Stay Motivated and Keep Your Eyes on the Goal

It's easy to get bogged down by the weight of student loan debt, but it's important to remember that it doesn't have to define your financial future. You don't need to drag out your payments for the next 10 or 20 years. You have the power to take control of your finances and pay off your debt as quickly as possible.
Living debt-free is a significant goal for many people, and with good reason. Imagine the financial freedom of not having a huge chunk of your paycheck go toward monthly loan payments.
Instead, you could use that money to travel, save for a down payment on a house, or invest in your future.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, don't despair. 
Most importantly, don't give up. It can be difficult to stay motivated when it feels like you're not making progress, but every little bit counts. 
Celebrate small victories, whether paying off a few hundred dollars or making your payments on time for several months. Remember that you're worth the effort to become debt-free and keep fighting the good fight.
Back to Blog

Related Articles

How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast: 10 Tips For Success

At the start, it may seem impossible to get an edge over your student loans. You go beyond the...

Student Loan Consolidation vs Refinancing: Which One Is Right For You?

Student loans can be a significant financial burden for many individuals, and finding the most...

Is Consolidating Student Loans a Good Idea?

Many students take out student loans to cover some of their education costs. Student loans are...