As tuition costs rise and student loan debt balances grow for new graduates, it might feel like paying off that student loan is something that will take a long time. According to a December 2020 report from Experian, roughly 15 percent of Americans were sharing the common experience of paying down more than $1.68 trillion of collective student loan debt.
The good news is that you are permitted to repay your student loans at a faster rate than the maximum 10-year timeline that federal loans allow. In other words, there is no penalty for repaying them early. Additionally, following a more rapid repayment strategy also results in lower interest costs than if you conformed to the standard repayment term.
These rapid repayment strategies will help you repay your student loans quickly so that you can use those funds to pay down other debt or build up your savings.
Prioritize Payoff Concentrations
Many people have multiple student loans — each one with different repayment requirements, interest rates, and terms. As you put together a repayment strategy, examine all of your student debt closely and, while paying the minimum due on each student loan, prioritize repaying more on the debt that costs the most first.
That means you will pay the minimum balance on all other student loans while paying as much as you can on the one that carries the highest interest rate or has the least favorable terms. You will especially want to do this if you have any student loans with a variable interest rate. Paying those loans off early, before rates increase.
If you have high-interest rate loans, the savings you stand to gain from this tactic can be substantial. Once you finish paying off one loan, it is time to move on to the next, and then the next. Keep doing this until all student loans are paid off. Paying off each successive loan should be faster as you apply the monthly payment you were making on a paid off debt to the next one.
Consolidate Student Loans
Consider consolidating your student loans. Not only will that simplify the repayment process, providing you with a single bill to pay each month, but it can also reduce your interest rate.
Take Advantage of Your Job if Possible
Some employers offer student loan assistance programs in their benefits packages; some jobs may actually qualify you for student loan forgiveness. There may be regional requirements or time of service requirements, but people working in the following professions may be eligible for forgiveness programs:
- Volunteer Organization Workers
- Public Servants
- Federal Agency Workers
Even if you qualify to have only a portion of your student loans repaid by someone else or forgiven, it can mean a significant reduction in your overall debt which can help you repay any outstanding debt balance that much faster.
Change Your Financial Circumstances
Whether you ask for a raise, take a different position, or consider an additional job, if you put the extra pay towards student loan repayment, you will have that debt paid off in a shorter time frame. Much quicker than if you stick to the minimum payments for the next 10 or 20 years.
Of course, making more money is not the only way to put more towards your student loan payments. You may also cut some expenses from your budget and invest those savings toward eliminating your student loan debt. Easy starting places include the following:
- Cut the cable. Choose a less expensive streaming service and save money each month by eliminating cable television from your budget.
- Forego movie rentals. With so many streaming services (some free or inexpensive), not to mention public libraries offering free DVD and Blu-ray rentals in many cities, you can save money by skipping the movie rentals.
- Skip the line at the coffee shop. Invest in a quality coffee maker, for a DIY daily coffee treat that costs much less and tastes even better.
- Downgrade your mobile phone plan. Many places offer free Wi-Fi to help offset cellular data plans.
Whatever your strategy is, the key is to reinvest your savings into paying off your student loans faster. You will be surprised by how quickly the little things add up.
Be cautious and always do your research before committing to some of the programs designed to reduce your monthly payments, simplify your record keeping, and only make one payment each month. That convenience typically comes at the high cost of extended repayment terms on your loan. Since the goal is to repay your student loan debt faster, not lengthen the amount of time you must continue to pay this debt, these programs might not be your best choice. Extended repayment periods may mean you will pay more interest over time.
Quickly paying off your student loans frees up your money, and the strategies and tips above will help.