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How to Pay Off Your Student Loan Debt Faster: 10 Tips

October 18, 2023 4 mins

If you’re dealing with student loan debt right now, you’re not alone: According to the Federal Reserve, student loan borrowers in the US owe more than $1.7 trillion to federal and private student loan providers1. Although the federal government paused student loan repayments during the COVID-19 pandemic, payments have now resumed — and that’s why paying off your student loans is more important than ever. Not only will paying off your loans help you save money on interest payments, you’ll have greater ability to buy a house, start a business or save for retirement. Less student loan debt also means a better credit score and, even better, less stress in your life.

Here are some student loan tips to help you pay them off faster, as well as details about the end of the COVID-era student debt payment pause.

Try setting a goal for how long you want to take to pay them off or choose a student loan repayment plan that fits your budget.”

Ways to pay off your student loans faster

  1. Make a budget and stick to it
    When you create a budget to track your income and expenses, you can find out where your money is going each month. See where you can make some changes to free up more money for paying off your loans.
     
  2. Come up with a plan
    Once you’ve reviewed your budget, make a plan for how you’ll pay off your student loans. Try setting a goal for how long you want to take to pay them off or choose a student loan repayment plan that fits your budget.
     
  3. Make extra payments
    If you can afford to, make extra payments on your loans each month or whenever you can swing it. Not only will this help you pay off those student loans faster, but you’ll also save money on interest.
     
  4. Refinance your loans
    If you have high-interest student loans, you may be able to refinance them to a lower interest rate with a private lender. If you take this step though, you’ll lose federal loan protections if you transition to a private lender.
     
  5. Live below your means
    You may have to sacrifice some personal expenses, but won’t it feel good to be debt-free? Cancel that cable subscription and put those funds toward paying off your loans.
     
  6. Find a side hustle
    Come up with even more money to pay off your loans (or to go out to lunch once in a while) with a part-time job or a side hustle, or by working online at home.
     
  7. Get help from a financial advisor
    If you’re struggling with student loan repayment, consider getting help from a financial advisor. Patelco members can contact a certified financial specialist for help with reviewing your budget, creating a payment plan, and keeping on track to reach your financial goals.
     
  8. Take advantage of student loan forgiveness programs
    If you have federal student loans, the U.S. Department of Education has student loan forgiveness programs for teachers, public service workers, and Perkins loan recipients, or you may be eligible for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. These programs typically require making payments for a set period of time; once you’ve met the requirements, your remaining balance is canceled.
     
    See if you’re eligible for any student loan forgiveness programs or an income-driven repayment plan, such as the SAVE Plan.
     
    Other programs may be available for healthcare workers, dentists, public-service lawyers, and veterinarians, among others.
     
  9. Keep informed
    Understand the terms of your loans and how they work so you can make the best decisions about paying them off. Stay informed with the latest federal policies and legislation related to student loans. Although the US Supreme Court recently ruled against an attempt to cancel $430 billion in student loan debt, there are certain government provisions that may still help lessen or forgive your debt.
     
  10. Stay motivated and don’t give up
    Paying off your student loans can be a long process, but it’s important to stay motivated.

What does the end of the student debt payment pause mean?

The US Department of Education suspended student loan payments, ended collections on defaulted loans, and stopped charging interest on federal student loans in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After several extensions, interest on student loans will resume September 1, 2023, meaning that borrowers with federal student loans will be required to make payments again starting in October 2023. (Because interest accrued on some loans during the payment pause, some monthly payments may increase.)

To prepare for student loan repayments to restart, visit StudentAid.gov to learn how to update your contact information, calculate your payments, find your loan servicer, and see if you qualify for forgiveness programs.

If you’re unable to make payments, you can contact your loan servicer to discuss your options. You may be able to enroll in a repayment plan with lower monthly payments or request deferment or forbearance.

Learn about the new SAVE Plan

As noted above, the US Supreme Court recently ruled against an attempt to cancel $430 billion in student loan debt, but there are new opportunities available, such as the SAVE Plan. Learn more about the new SAVE Plan and how it can potentially lower your monthly payment if you qualify.

Avoid student loan scams

As you work on paying off your loans and exploring your options, beware that fraudsters are out there, even in unexpected areas like student loans. Learn how to avoid student loan scams.

1 https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g19/HIST/cc_hist_memo_levels.html

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