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Pay Off Your Student Loans Smarter (and Faster)

text reads how to conquer student loans with extra payments

Ever feel like you'll be paying back your student loans for the rest of your life? You're not alone. Student loan debt can feel crushing at times, but there are many manageable ways to chip away at it. With these tips, you can work toward paying off your student loans smarter and faster.

Pay More than Your Minimum Student Loan Payment

One of the most effective ways to pay your student loans off quicker is to pay extra toward those loans each month. Paying the minimum required amount might be enough to keep you in good standing but that means it will still take you the entire repayment term to get out of debt.

Adding a little extra money each month toward your loans can make a big difference, and if you have the income to do this, you'll save money on interest and time in repayment.

graphic showing how extra payments affect student loan repayment

How to conquer student loans with extra payments. Example loan of $30,000 over 10 years at 6 percent interest. If you pay an extra $50 per month, you save $1,804 on interest, and the loan is paid off in 8 years and 4 months. If you pay an extra $100 per month, you save $3,046 on interest, and the loan is paid off in 7 years and 2 months.

Make Additional Student Loan Payments Throughout the Year

If putting extra money toward your student loans each month isn't possible, try making a few extra payments throughout the year. This is a great place to start if you're still trying to figure out just how much you have left over in your budget each month. Set a goal to make an extra payment once every three or six months and see how that impacts your student loan debt.

Don't Blow Raises and Bonuses

A bonus or raise at work can be thrilling, and it may be tempting to spend that extra money on some "splurge" items. If you receive an unexpected bonus or raise, though, and are not relying on the money for a specific need, you can spend it on your student loans. Doing this can really help to reduce your debt more and, if you put just the bonus or extra take-home amount toward your loans, it won't even impact your budget.

Make Some Extra Money to Put Toward Student Loans

If you feel like you don't have enough income to contribute extra to your student loan payments, consider a part-time job to help with your budget. The best kind of part-time job is one where you get to do something you enjoy. For some people that means taking up tutoring, babysitting or music lessons. Find something that works well with your lifestyle and schedule.

Just remember to make a plan to manage that extra income. Come up with a schedule for saving money or putting it directly toward the balance of a loan as you reach a certain amount. It can be very easy to spend money that is designated for loans if it's just sitting around, so make sure you develop a good system for accountability.

Creative Ways to Make Extra Money

If you don't want to commit to a part-time job, there are more creative ways to make money. You may be able to find freelancing work that fits with your skills; try searching the internet for freelancing gigs. Selling items online or at a consignment shop can help you reduce your belongings while increasing your bank account. These are just a few unique ways to make extra money to pay down your student loan debt faster.

See if Loan Forgiveness Is an Option

Loan forgiveness is not necessarily too good to be true. Not all people are eligible for this benefit, but if you are eligible, loan forgiveness can save you thousands of dollars.

The federal government offers several loan forgiveness programs depending on your career and types of debt. However, there are lots of scams online about student loan forgiveness, so be sure to use a reputable source, like the Federal Student Aid website.

Many states also offer loan forgiveness programs for teachers, nurses and workers in other high-demand but lower paying fields. Be sure to check out what the state you live in offers as far as loan forgiveness programs. Another source is the financial aid office at the college or university you attended as those experts can help you find loan forgiveness or grant programs.

Budget to Save Money in Other Areas

Not sure how people manage to have leftover money after bills, loans and fun? You should try budgeting! Budgeting is great because it establishes boundaries for your spending and helps you keep track of where your money is going. This monthly budget calculator can help you get started. When you're not tracking your spending, you might not even realize just how much you're spending on certain things.

Once you're actively managing your spending, you're more accountable and you'll likely find you have more money to spend — money that you can put toward paying off loans, saving or investing.

Find Out if Refinancing Can Help You

Refinancing is an option anyone with student loan debt should look into as it's one of the most effective ways to save money and pay off loans quicker without breaking the budget.

Refinancing your student loans is most worthwhile when you can lower the interest rate you're paying or combine your loans into a single loan with a shorter term. Both of these cases can help you pay less in interest over the life of the loan.

ISL Education Lending provides a simple and quick way to find out the rate you would qualify for with our refinance loan and it doesn't impact your credit score. See if you qualify today.

If you have someone with good credit who is willing to cosign a new loan, you may qualify for an even better rate, saving you even more in interest charges.

Not ready to pre-qualify? Use our student loan refinance calculator to compare your current monthly payment amounts to the estimated amounts you could pay with our refinance loan.

Interested in learning more about our refinancing? Check out our beginner's guide for refinancing.

Tips to Chip Away at Debt

Get creative! With a little bit of effort, your student loans will be gone before you know it.

Remember these tips to work toward paying off your student loans faster:

  • Pay more than the required minimum monthly payment amount.
  • Make additional student loan payments when you can.
  • Put any extra earnings or bonuses toward student loans.
  • Look at ways to increase your income or decrease your spending.
  • Consider refinancing your existing student loans.

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