Last Updated on May 18, 2022
If you’re looking for the easiest way to pay off your student loans, we’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that you can pay off your student loans in as little as three years by making extra payments. The bad news is that it’s not going to be easy—but it will feel like a breeze after a few months!
- First, take a look at your budget. If you’re willing and able, cut back on expenses like eating out or going out with friends so you can put more money toward your student loans each month.
- Next, find an online payment system that lets you set up automatic monthly payments from your bank account or credit card (we recommend [insert product name]). This way, even if you forget about it for a few days or weeks at a time, the money will still be coming out of your account every month without fail!
- Finally, commit yourself to making these extra payments for the next three years or so—that’s how long it should take for them to pay off completely
How Do I Pay Student Loans
1. Get on a budget.
Y’all, this one is a game changer. If you’re not already doing this, now’s the time to make a budget and stick to it. A zero-based monthly budget will show you exactly where your money is going and where you can cut back. (I’m looking at you, late-night dollar menu. Those Beefy Fritos Burritos can add up calorically and financially!)Find out if you qualify to refinance your student loan and get rid of debt faster.
When you stick to a budget, you might even find “extra” money you didn’t know you had, which is a way better plan than hoping to find $10 in your old windbreaker jacket from high school. Once you start throwing all that extra money at your student loans each month, you’ll start making progress in no time!
The easiest way to budget is with our free budgeting app, EveryDollar. You can even put a line item in your budget for each student loan you’re paying off. That way you’ll see the progress as you keep crushing that student loan debt—and it’ll feel pretty sweet.
2. Find out your payoff date.
Check out our Student Loan Payoff Calculator, where you can enter in your monthly payment, loan balance and interest rate for each student loan you’ve got. You’ll see the date you’ll pay off each loan if you keep making those minimum payments. You might not like what you see at first, but don’t worry. Move straight to point #3 to see what happens if you get focused on paying more than the minimum.
3. Pay more than the minimum payment.
You’ve probably heard this one before. If you’re only paying the minimum payment each month, you’re not getting anywhere fast. You might not even be breaking even with the interest you’re piling up! By making larger payments, you’ll be able to attack the amount you owe at a quicker rate. Start playing around with that Student Loan Payoff Calculator to figure out how fast you can pay off your loans by making extra payments.
Here’s an example:
- Let’s say you have the typical amount of student loan debt that the average student graduates with, which is $38,792.1 (That number could be made up of multiple loans, but for the sake of this example, we’ll say it‘s all one loan.)
- With a 5.8% interest rate (which is the industry average) and a 10-year loan term (which is super common), you’d be looking at a minimum monthly payment of $426.78.2
- Because of interest, your total repayment amount would be $51,489—that’s $12,697 more than your original loan! Yikes. That blows.
- But let’s say you decided to pay just 20% more than your minimum payment each month (that’s $85.36). That would put your monthly payment at $512.14—which means you’d pay off your entire loan in about eight years and save $2,794.04 in interest (plus over two years of your life)! That’s more like it.
- If you paid over 20% more than your minimum payment each month, you’d pay off your loan even faster (I like that plan even better). You get the picture!
A word to the wise, though: When you pay more than the minimum monthly payment, the student loan servicers might put that extra amount onto next month’s payment. That pushes the due date back, but you won’t actually pay off your loan any faster. Tell your loan servicer to keep next month’s due date the same and to just apply the extra amount of money to your current loan balance.
Maybe you’ve heard about biweekly payments, where you make two payments per month. I’d only suggest setting this up if you’ve got just one loan you’re paying down, and the double payments are motivating you to work way harder to pay it off. Otherwise, I want you knocking out each loan one at a time, smallest to largest, in what’s called the debt snowball method. (I’ll cover that more in point #5.)
All that said, if you’re having trouble even making the minimum payment each month, you might think the idea of paying more money is a pipe dream. With that in mind . . .
4. Make some financial sacrifices.
Remember when I brought up sacrifice earlier? Like saying no to late-night fast food? Here’s where it comes into play.
Look at your lifestyle. What extra stuff have you been living with that you can do without? Bye bye, cable package. See ya, bougie subscription boxes. Maybe cut your housing cost in half by finding a roommate. Do you have a guest room that’s not getting much use these days? Rent that sucker out! Just think how quickly you could pay off your loans if your housing costs were cut way down.
How about selling some junk you don’t need anymore? Dig through your closet, garage and storage to see what you could put on eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Then, add up what you spend eating out every week. Ditch the $7 oat milk lattes and brew your own coffee at home. Eat your leftovers (they’re not that bad) or meal prep for the week instead of spending $10–20 on lunch. Get savvy at the grocery store. Trust me—there are plenty of creative ways to save. But it starts with being willing to make some temporary sacrifices for some long-term gains.
5. Pay off student loans with the debt snowball.
The debt snowball method has helped a ton of people dump their debt, and it can work for student loans too. First, list all your loan debts (private loans, secured loans, unsecured loans—you name it) from smallest balance to largest. Start paying on the smallest student loan balance first. Throw any extra money you have into paying off that first debt while still paying the minimums on everything else.
Once you’ve paid off the first debt, move to the second-smallest balance. Take everything you were putting toward the first one and add it to the minimum of the second balance. Once that debt is paid, move on to the next one and repeat the process until you’re finally out of debt. Boom.
You might be thinking, Nope—this is going to take forever! Don’t get it twisted. Most people that go all in on this plan pay off their debt in 18 to 24 months! That’s not quite forever, is it? My favorite thing about working the debt snowball method is that you’ll feel the progress you’re making as each student loan disappears. Knocking those smaller loans out first will give you a couple of quick wins and help you stay motivated to crush the bigger student loans fast!
Just make sure you don’t pocket the extra payment money as you pay off each loan. Keep the momentum going by rolling that money into the next loan payment.
Pro tip: Don’t do this on your own. Take a class like Financial Peace University (FPU) and learn how to work the plan that’s changed almost 10 million lives. This plan will help you stay on the debt-free grind and get rid of your debt as fast as humanly possible. You can get FPU today (and the premium version of the EveryDollar app I mentioned earlier) with a free trial of Ramsey+.
6. Apply every raise and tax refund toward paying off your student loans.
What do most people do when they get a raise? They blow through it like it’s nothing. And then they wonder why it felt like they didn’t get a raise.
As you keep growing in your career and getting promotions as you go, put your extra income toward paying off those student loans. Don’t move to a bigger house. Don’t buy a new car. Don’t buy any designer threads. And don’t upgrade your smartphone. You were living without that extra money before, and you can keep living without it a little while longer. Now is not the time to upgrade your lifestyle. You can do that later when you don’t have a payment in the world! Use your income boost to make major progress in your fight against student loan debt.
The same goes for your tax refund. How many people do you know who take that “free money” and burn it all on new furniture, clothes or a 55-inch flat-screen TV? One extra deposit into the bank account, and suddenly a little voice in your head yells, Treat yourself!
Here’s a not-so-fun fact: Your tax refund isn’t free money from the government. They’re just giving you back your own money because you paid them too much. They were just holding onto your money all year long with zero percent interest earned! If you really want to treat yourself, take that refund and put it directly toward paying off a big chunk of your student loans!
7. Increase your income with a side hustle.
If your biggest problem is income, pick up a part-time job on the nights or weekends so you can stack cash quickly. Then toss that extra cash directly at your student loan debt! There are a ton of side hustle options out there—everything from driving an Uber and delivering food to walking dogs and house-sitting. When I was paying off my student loans, I drove for Lyft and Uber and did freelance marketing work to pay those bad boys off even faster.
And don’t hit me with the “I don’t have time for another job” excuse. If you have time to hang out with your friends, scroll Instagram, or watch Netflix, you have time to make a few extra bucks.
Remember, the extra job won’t last forever. You’re just trying to get intense and kick that student loan debt out of your life so you can move on with your life.
8. Don’t bank on student loan forgiveness.
Okay, this one really grinds my little gears. I know people probably told you that taking out student loans was no big deal because you could just get them forgiven later.
But student loan forgiveness isn’t really the dream come true it sounds like. First off, with the current program, there are so many requirements you have to meet in order to be eligible (like working in a public service job for 10 years). And even then, forgiveness isn’t guaranteed.
Now, there’s been a lot more talk lately about the government wiping out student loan debt across the board. Okay, that would be awesome, but don’t bank on it. I mean, Biden talked a lot about that sweet student loan forgiveness. So far, he’s canceled nearly $3 billion of current student loans.3 That may sound like a lot until you hear the current federal student loan debt sits at $1.57 trillion (as of summer 2021).4 So after all that talk, only 0.19% of the debt was forgiven. Listen: Politicians make a lot of empty promises. It doesn’t matter who’s in the White House. You’re responsible for taking care of your money and your debts.
You’re better off having a job that pays well (that you actually like) so you can go ahead and pay off your student loans as fast as you can. That way you won’t spend years of your life waiting to have your loans forgiven—it may never happen.
P.S. If you’re into documentaries, you need to check out this new one called Borrowed Future—it’s all about the student loan debt crisis in America. But be forewarned: it might make you a little mad. Borrowed Future premieres October 14 on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV or Google Play.
9. Refinance student loans—if it makes sense.
Before you go running into the arms of an all-too-eager lender, know that refinancing student loans is not the right move for everyone. If someone told you this is the absolute best way to pay off student loans, they were lying. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least look into refinancing.
When you refinance, you’re taking all your loans—federal, private, often a mix of both—to a lender who pays them off for you. And now you owe this new lender the money they just fronted you.
With a refinance, the goal is to secure a better rate and better payment terms—which means you pay less each month and for a shorter amount of time to one lender instead of more money for a longer period of time to one or more lenders.
If you’re in a position to keep paying the same amount you were paying before you refinanced, even better. Because that means you’re throwing more at the principal each month than you were before and avoiding more interest. Plus—and here’s the best part—if you’ve got other debt outside your newly refinanced student loan, you can ramp up your debt snowball even faster once you knock out that student loan. (Head back to #5 for a debt snowball crash course!)
Remember though, you’re refinancing to get a better rate and payment terms. If that’s not what you’re being offered, don’t refinance. It’s a bad deal. Make sure to do your homework and read the fine print, or you could end up deeper in the hole than you were before.
10. Stay motivated and you’ll destroy your student loan debt ASAP!
Look, I’m not here to beat you up because you took out student loans in the past. I ain’t no bully. But I do want you to experience the power of living debt-free. There’s no need to drag out your student loan payments for the next five, 10 or even 20 years. When your money doesn’t have Sallie Mae’s name on it every month, you can do so much more with it. Just think about how many Beefy Fritos Burritos that freed up money could buy!
If you’re ready to kick-start your journey to dumping student loan debt, then start with our 64-page quick read, Destroy Your Student Loan Debt: The Step-by-Step Plan to Pay Off Your Student Loans Faster. Then jump into that free trial to Ramsey+, your membership to the content that walks you through your debt-free journey and the tools you need to make it happen.
Remember, the only magic in this is you and how hard you’re willing to work. But it’s totally worth it. You’re worth it. Keep fighting the good fight (and the bad debt!).
donors that pay off student loans
If you’re looking for charities that help with student loans, there are a few that can be good choices. Some might have requirements, such as volunteer work, in order to qualify.
Here are some of the charities that help with student loans.
Rolling Jubilee is a project of the Debt Collective, which focuses on debt abolition. It’s not just student loan debt, but all types of debt. As part of the effort, Rolling Jubilee buys the debt, for pennies on the dollar. Then, instead of making the debtor make payments, they just forgive the debt.
Shared Harvest Fund
Shared Harvest is an organization that offers student loan funds in exchange for volunteer work. You’re paired with charities and other nonprofits and as you volunteer, Shared Harvest puts money toward your student loan repayment. As a result of COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a shift toward those that can help in hard-hit communities. This can be an opportunity for student loan forgiveness for nurses.
Organizations That Offer Student Loan Repayment Assistance
Some of the organizations that provide loan repayment assistance include those that offer government-backed relief.
Rather than being a charity, AmeriCorps offers partial loan repayment after you complete 12 months of service. You need to work full-time and, on top of offering partial loan repayment, your time in AmeriCorps can be used toward qualifying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
National Health Service Corps
There are various loan repayment assistance programs through the National Health Service Corps. Your level of loan repayment depends on your healthcare specialty and whether you work full-time or part-time. You also have to work in an area that is considered underserved. This can be one way to get student loan forgiveness for doctors.
Teach For America
For teachers willing to work in a low-income and needed area for at least five years, it’s possible to get up to $17,500 in loan repayment assistance. This is one option for student loan forgiveness for teachers.
Peace Corps is another government-backed program aimed at volunteer work around the world. After you complete your service, you can receive partial loan repayment assistance. On top of that, this is another opportunity to work in a way that qualifies you for PSLF.
Donors That Help Repay Student Loans
For borrowers who aren’t eligible for loan forgiveness and repayment assistance through the above charities and government organizations, here are a few other channels to consider:
Another option is to get individual donations from people to help you pay off your student loans. Crowdfunding is a way to get small amounts of money from a lot of people to help pay down your student debt. Some of the popular crowdfunding sites include:
Before you use crowdfunding, realize that it requires a lot of work to promote your campaign and raise money. Additionally, many crowdfunding websites take a cut, so you won’t necessarily get the full amount.
Celebrities & Private Individuals
In addition to government programs and charities that help with student loans, celebrities sometimes help pay off debt.
For example, Ellen Degeneres has a program where fans can apply for debt pay off. Robert H. Smith paid off the debt of Morehouse College graduates in 2019 and has an ongoing scholarship relationship with the institution. Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj have also provided help for struggling students and graduates.
Other Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans
Getting donations to help with student loans can be difficult. Attracting a celebrity donor or qualifying for charity can be hard to manage. There are other ways to pay off student loan debt, including:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness: PSLF is a program that will forgive your eligible federal Direct student loan balance after you’ve made 120 qualifying payments. If you work for a government organization, nonprofit, or another eligible employer, you can apply for PSLF.
- State-Sponsored Student Loan Repayment Assistance: Some states offer their own repayment assistance programs. In general, you need to have some sort of skill, such as teaching a needed subject or providing healthcare to underserved communities.
- Student Loan Refinancing: If you want to pay off student loans faster, student loan refinancing can be one option. With refinancing, you partner with a new lender to pay off your student loans, then sign a contract with updated terms with the new lender. If you have good credit, you could potentially get a lower interest rate and save money on interest as well as tackling your debt faster.
- Grants to Pay Off Student Loans: Different grants are available to help pay off student loans. These often operate similarly to scholarships to pay off student loans, since you usually don’t have to pay the money back.