The Best Advice for Paying Off Student Loans

According to the United States Census, approximately 45 million Americans live with student loan debt. This debt could make financial stability seem unattainable, especially for people entering the workforce after college. However, there are certain methods and resources available to make student debt more manageable. Here are the top 5 tips for paying off your student loans.

1.      Get your balance wiped out with student loan forgiveness programs

Depending on your loan type, you may qualify for a student loan forgiveness program that could eliminate a portion of your debt or even your remaining balance. For example, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program forgives the loan balance for people who have worked for ten years in non-profit or government jobs and have qualifying federal loans. To qualify, you must be enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan and make at least 120 payments. Spend some time researching these programs and their requirements to determine whether you might qualify for forgiveness.

2.      Pay more than you need to  

Student loan servicers often set minimum monthly payments based on your loan amount, interest rate, and repayment plan. It’s critical to pay at least your monthly minimum so you don’t fall behind. However, regularly exceeding the minimum required payment can reduce your principal balance and help lower the interest your loan accrues over time. Just make sure the extra money you allocate toward your loans doesn’t come out of other necessary expenses.

3.      Put extra towards your balance

If you receive extra funds on top of your paycheck, like a tax refund, bonus, or gift, consider applying the money to your student loan balance. Every extra dollar you put toward your principal loan decreases the interest you’ll owe over time. Therefore, directing extra cash toward the principal instead of future payments has the most significant impact on your debt.

If you have difficulty letting go of birthday money or a bonus, consider a compromise. Allocating half of a surprise payout to your student loans does more for you in the long term than pocketing all the money right away.

4.      Enroll in AutoPay

Setting up automatic payments is a straightforward tool to ensure you never miss a student loan bill. AutoPay not only saves you time and hassle, but may also save money in the long run through interest rate deductions. Some lenders offer a .25%-point reduction in your interest rate for AutoPay, which could add up to hundreds of dollars by the end of your term. Once you have AutoPay set up, you could also easily increase your payment amount as your income increases or your expenses decrease.

5.      Adjust your budget with an avalanche or a snowball method

If you’re struggling to cover your student loan payments, it may be time to adjust your monthly budget. Sometimes, it’s challenging to prioritize your student loans without neglecting your other bills and expenses. Two popular budgeting tools for managing debt are the debt avalanche and debt snowball methods.


  • Debt avalanche: The debt avalanche approach involves tackling the loans that charge the most interest first. Using this method, you direct all extra funds to your highest-interest loan while paying the minimum required amount on all other debts. Once you repay a loan, you shift your attention and resources to the one with the next highest rate, and so on.
  • Debt snowball: The debt snowball approach instead prioritizes debts with the smallest balance. You first make extra payments on your smallest loan while paying the minimum requirement across other bills. Once you knock one loan out, you move on to the loan with the next smallest balance until you’ve repaid all your debts.


Both approaches may help you pay off your student loans, especially if you must manage several loans simultaneously. However, they’re just two of the many budgeting practices available to you.

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Overcoming student loan debt may feel intimidating.  While eliminating this debt requires patience, careful planning, and self-discipline, you can work toward a debt-free financial future with the right tools. To pay off your student loans, find the methods that work for your circumstances and stick to them.

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