Top 10 Ways To Pay Off Your Student Loans Faster
Updated On October 29, 2021
Editorial Note: This content is based solely on the author's opinions and is not provided, approved, endorsed or reviewed by any financial institution or partner.
Let’s face it. No one wants student loan debt. And no one wants to spend the rest of their life taking a large percentage of their paycheck to make that monthly student loan payment. Yeah, you get a tax deduction, but it doesn’t feel very good and it seems never ending.
In an ideal world, your goal should be to get out of debt – and as fast as possible.
Easier said than done, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make some changes that will help you to slay the proverbial student loan debt dragon.
Top Picks For Student Loan Refinancing
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Here are our Top 10 ways to pay off your student loan debt faster. Let’s dive in:
1. Pay more than the minimum payment
Student loan, mortgage and credit card companies like to show you a minimum monthly payment – that relatively small number that you need to send in each month to satisfy your student loan obligation. The problem is they want you to make only the minimum payment. Why? When you make only the minimum payment, more and more interest accrues on your loan.
Take back control over your student loan. Pay more than the minimum amount. This can be any amount of money that makes you feel comfortable – whether it is $10 or $100 more per month. The point is you should be consistent and pay the same amount every month.
Lemonade Tip: Tell your student loan lender you want to pay more than the minimum repayment and they can help you set up your desired amount on autopay. This way, you can “force” yourself to make that higher payment. For example, if your minimum monthly payment is $300, consider paying $350 per month instead. The more you can pay, the closer you will be to paying off your student loan faster.
2. Make an extra payment
This is similar to paying more than the minimum payment. In fact, you can use this strategy in addition to paying more than the minimum payment. For example, each year you have to make 12 payments. Instead of just making 12 payments, make a 13th payment. Ideally, it would be for the same amount as your usual monthly payment. If not, you can choose any amount with which you are comfortable. The goal is to reduce your principal balance in order to limit additional interest from accruing. This strategy also works well to reduce credit card debt and mortgage debt.
Lemonade Tip: Be sure to contact your student loan company and instruct them to apply your extra payment toward your principal balance, and not toward your next monthly payment.
3. Consolidate your student loans
Student loan consolidation means that you combine more than one student loan into a single student loan, and the resulting interest rate is a weighted average of the student loans that were combined. This way, you get one student loan with one interest payment, which makes it easier to manage your student loan. With a single monthly payment, you are still afforded borrower protections such as flexible income-driven student loan repayment plans and student loan forgiveness.
Lemonade Tip: One of the benefits of student loan consolidation is certain protections afforded to borrowers such as income-based student loan repayment options and student loan forgiveness. These can be good options for public servants and teachers, for example.
4. Refinance your student loans
This is the number one strategy for you to get a better interest rate and combine all your student loans into a single student loan with one monthly payment. The goal is to obtain the lowest interest rate possible to limit the amount of interest that accrues on your student loans.
Lemonade Tip: Student loan lenders are offering interest rates as low as 2-3%, which is much lower than the government and in school private loan interest rates.
5. Refinance your student loans and pay the same monthly student loan payment as before
If you want to pay off your student loans super fast, and you can afford the monthly student loan payments, consider (a) private student loan refinancing; and (b) keep the same monthly payment you make under your existing loan.Here is how it works:Let’s assume you have an existing 20-year student loan with an outstanding balance of $100,000 and your current student loan interest rate is fixed at 6.8%. That means you pay $763 per month in principal and interest, assuming a standard student loan repayment plan. Now, imagine you refinance that same $100,000 student loan and your new 20-year fixed interest rate is 3%. That means you pay $554 per month in principal and interest, assuming a standard repayment plan.
Now, you could pocket the difference of $763 – 554, or $209, which represents the savings between your existing and new loan.
But, let’s assume you continue to pay the $763 each month, even though you are only required to pay $554. That means that each month, $209 will go toward a reduction in principal. This will not only save you interest, but also reduce your principal payment and help you pay off your student loan faster.
Lemonade Tip: This strategy is cool because if you can afford the same monthly payment (and we realize this is an “if”), it is an easy way to pick a consistent, incremental amount to contribute each month. Since you have been making these payments already each month, why not continue?
6. Apply your bonus to pay off your student loan
It is tempting when bonus time rolls around to take that hard earned money and take a nice vacation or buy a new car. You can tell yourself that those would be good ideas, but then remind yourself that first and foremost you need to pay off your student loans first and get debt free. If you can apply the bulk, or even the entire amount, of your bonus to reduce the principal balance of your student loans, you will be on a faster path to be debt free.
7. Make a budget and then cut it
There are two ways to make more money: (1) you can earn it; or (2) you can cut costs. You can also win the lottery, strike gold, or inherit grandma’s oil fortune. But, let’s put those aside for you.Write down each and every expense in your life:
- Rent / Mortgage
- Morning coffees
Now, where can you cut your budget and find more money to apply toward your student loans? We bet there are thousands of dollars in a given year that you can extract from your life and apply toward your student loan.
Lemonade Tip: Are you a morning coffee drinker? Forget those $3 coffees each day. Instead, you will have about $1,000 by the end of the year that you can apply directly to reduce your student loan.
8. Pay your student loan every two weeks
You don’t have to make student loan payments once per month. Instead, consider making student loan payments twice per month. Since most people get paid every two weeks, you can time the student loan payments based on your paychecks.Now, before you say, “But how can I afford making twice the amount of student loan payments each month?”You still will pay the same monthly payment as you always do. However, you will split your monthly student loan payment in two. If your monthly payment is $1,000, then pay $500 every two weeks.
9. Try to avoid student repayment programs, if possible
If you are struggling to pay your student loans, then you may have no choice but to apply for an income-based student loan repayment program. The downside of these student loan repayment programs is that the way they lower your monthly payments is by extending the term of your student loan. While this helps provide relief in the short term, it actually works against your goal of faster student loan repayment.
10. Use your tax refund
The interest on your student loans is tax deductible. Make sure you take full advantage of this important deduction. If you receive a tax refund at the end of the year, you can use this tax refund to make a lump sum payment applied toward principal balance of your student loan.
Lemonade Tip: You can deduct up to $2,500 per year in student loan interest. Don’t miss this important tax deduction.
Want to save money on your student loans? We have identified our top student loan refinancing picks for 2018 to help you save money. These lenders may be able to help you save thousands of dollars on your student loans by offering lower interest rates and lower monthly payments. That’s real money back in your pocket.
Learn your new student loan interest rate in only 2 minutes.
You can save up to $30,000 or higher with student loan refinancing depending on your degree and interest rate.