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How to Pay off Your Student Loans Quickly

Finances
Written by Jaeme Velez
Updated: June 12, 2024
12 min read
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Pathward®.

Overwhelmed by student loan debt? You're not alone. Education often comes with a big price tag, and learning how to pay off student loans quicker is a key factor in personal financial health. This guide is a roadmap aimed at helping you gain ideas on how to reach freedom from student loans early.

Understanding and applying different techniques to your situation will also save money on interest rates, extend the time you have to repay a loan, and allow you to gain financial stability. Take control to pay off student loans and start your journey toward a loan-free life.

Sign up for the Bold Visa® Debit Card to earn rewards that can help pay for student loans. While you’re here, apply for scholarships to help minimize your student loan debt!

Why Quickly Paying Off Student Loan Debt Matters

We all need extra money to pay for our education. Whether for rent, books, fun times, or expensive tuition, multiple student loans can help students achieve their desired careers.

Many students face their personal finance nightmare once they graduate. You get your desired job, but play savvy so you don't experience the post-graduation nightmare: the monthly payments.

Financially speaking, the fact that having monthly payments can take a significant portion of your income impacts your daily ability to feel financially free.

This can affect your ability to qualify for other loans, like getting the car you want to get to work. Stress and anxiety are big problems today, especially because students are dealing with a lot of challenging information from a young age.

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paying off student loans

Mental health is something we need to consistently keep in mind. Just as you need to make regular payments for student loans to keep it thriving, you must also nurture your mental health consistently.

Many students pick the trending career that will get them financial stability, realizing later that they actually hate it. This can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, self-worth, and overall health. By taking control of our finances as soon as possible, we can avoid many other problems in life.

Learning how to grab the steering wheel with both hands and pay our student loans faster is the courage we need to stay in equilibrium with our lives and finances. 

Suppose you have an entrepreneurial mindset or want to have a family or buy a house. In that case, you know a degree will help you achieve these financial goals, but how do we learn quickly how student loan servicers work?

Strategies to Pay Off Student Loans Quickly

A Helpful Approach to Paying Off Student Loans: The Bold Debit Card

In the journey to pay off student loans early, every bit helps. Innovative financial tools like the Bold Debit Card can play a key role in financing your education. It offers a distinctive way to combine everyday spending with loan repayment. It also encourages students to be mindful of their spending habits while providing a way to chip away at student loans.

You Can Turn Everyday Purchases into Loan Payments

The strength of the Bold Debit Card is its rewards system: for every $2 spent, you earn 1 Bold Point.* Small steps make a big difference, and every transaction pushes you a step closer to lowering your student loans. 

Flexible Student-Friendly Rewards*

Indeed, students need flexibility. Choosing how to use your rewards sets the Bold Debit Card apart. You can pick between cashback and making direct payments towards your student loans. The card incentivizes financial responsibility with 1,000 Bold Points, translating to a $15 payment on your student loan (compared to $10 in cashback).

Simple Budgeting and Security

No annual fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no hidden costs. This fee structure can help you maintain finances without worrying about unexpected fees.

The card's robust security measures and FDIC insurance also offer peace of mind, assuring your finances are safe. The FDIC ensures that your deposits at banks and savings institutions with FDIC protection are secure, covering up to $250,000 per depositor.** This protection is extended to each bank where you hold deposits and is applicable across each category of account ownership.

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Earn rewards that help pay for school.* Apply for the Bold Debit Card today!

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Loan Forgiveness and Help with Payments

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Working in a public service job, teaching kids, fighting fires, or working at a non-profit may qualify you for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. It is a federal program that helps people and rewards them for choosing a career path that makes a meaningful impact in the world.

If you work in a qualifying public service job and make 120 on-time payments (about ten years' worth), then the remaining balance on your federal Direct Loans could be forgiven.

Remember your specific job and the loan type needed to qualify. See the FAFSA website for more information.

Getting a Boost from Your Employer: Student Loan Repayment Assistance

When Your Job Helps You Tackle Student Loans

Some jobs also chip in to help with your student loan debt. It's a bonus, a direct payment to your student loan balance. 

How to Find Out if Your Employer Offers This Gem

First, have a chat with your HR department. They're the ones who know about all the benefits your company offers, including any student loan repayment assistance programs. Keep this benefit on your radar if you're currently job hunting or considering a career move.

When weighing job offers, factor in the salary and perks like student loan assistance. Plus, it's a sign that your employer is invested in your overall well-being and success, which is always good.

 This approach could be a game-changer in your journey to becoming debt-free from student loans.

Getting Bright with How You Pay Off Your Student Loans

Boosting Your Payments: A Little Extra Goes a Long Way

Every time you make a student loan payment, you can add some extra cash. Even a tiny extra amount can have a significant impact. 

Paying more than the minimum required makes you quickly chip away at the principal balance. And a smaller balance means less interest over time.

Biweekly Payments: A Simple Twist with Big Rewards 

Instead of the usual monthly payment, try splitting it in half and paying it every two weeks when creating a repayment schedule. Because there are 52 weeks in a year, you'll make 26 half-payments, like 13 total payments, instead of the usual 12. This means you make an extra yearly payment without a massive financial strain.

paying off loans

Refinancing: A Path to Better Loan Terms

This is about getting a new loan with better terms (like a lower interest rate), which can save you a lot of money and help you achieve your financial goals. Or it's about consolidating multiple loans into one, so you're not juggling several payments every month, and you can try to save extra cash.

Refinancing can be wise if your credit score has improved since you first took out your student loans. But wait, there's a catch with refinancing federal loans: you could lose out on federal loan perks, like income-driven repayment plans or potential loan forgiveness. 

Be sure to weigh your options before deciding to refinance your student loan. It is best to consult the FAFSA website and analyze your current financial situation before making any decisions.

Budgeting for Faster Loan Repayment

Making a Monthly Budget: Sit down and figure out your monthly cash flow. Track what you earn and what you spend. See if you can tweak your budget to put a bit more towards your student loans. 

Trimming Your Expenses: Look for ways to cut back on spending. I suggest cooking at home more often instead of eating out. Every dollar you save can go towards your loan. It's all about finding clever ways to spend less so you can pay off that loan quicker. Income-Driven Repayment Plans (IDR)

Tax Considerations

Student Loan Interest Deduction: You can deduct the interest you pay on your student loans from your taxes. It's like getting a small tax refund on what you've paid throughout the year. When you're doing your taxes, make sure you claim this deduction if you have paid interest on your student loans.

Taxes and Loan Forgiveness: Remember that it could affect your taxes if you're lucky enough to get your student loan forgiven. If you get your loans forgiven, you might have to pay taxes on that amount. Planning for this is crucial so you're aware of the situation.

For accurate tax guidance, it's wise to speak with a tax advisor or accountant. Also, keep in mind the tax implications of student loan forgiveness. Should your loans be forgiven, this could be taxable income, potentially impacting your tax bill. Consult the IRS website for more information.

psychological aspects of student loans payments

Psychological Aspects of Student Loan Repayment

Handling Debt Anxiety

Dealing with student loans can be super stressful. It's normal to feel anxious about it. The key is finding ways to cope. Maybe it's talking to a friend, making a detailed plan, or just taking a break to breathe and relax. Remember, tackling student debt alone is a marathon, not a sprint.

Celebrating the Small Wins

Paying off debt is a big task, so celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Paid off a bit more this month? That's awesome! Give yourself some credit for each milestone. It keeps you motivated and reminds you that there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Kinds of Student Loans

Getting Why and What You Signed Up For

You wouldn't play a game without knowing the rules. The same goes for a student loan. Knowing what's in that agreement is essential. Understand how much you need to pay every month, how long you'll be paying it, and the interest rate depending on the amount you choose to pay.

Interest rate is a percentage that tells you how much extra you must pay for your student loan. For example, if you take out a loan for $10,000 with a 5% interest rate over a ten-year period, then your total cost once the loan is paid off would be $12,728, given you paid on-time monthly payments on the exact due date. That extra $2,728 is the interest for this loan period, interest rate, and amount.

You can aim to pay the minimum for a while, depending on your financial situation after you graduate. This can save you tons of stress and give you time to figure things out.

Still, consider paying more once you have financial stability since it decreases your time to pay student loan debt and the accrual of interest. If you continue paying the minimum amount, you will pay much more in the long term (A LOT more).

Interest rates are sneaky. You know what you're dealing with for a federal student loan from the get-go. But a private student loan? The minimum monthly payment could go up or down, messing with your extra money.

Also, some loans might have a fee if you try to pay them off early. Some debt may be good, but you must know how to leverage it. The same as using a credit card. Having some debt to build your credit and gain financial freedom can be good. Others might give you benefits (like a lower interest rate) if you're always on time with payments.

Knowing this is like knowing how to score points in this financial game. You can also add money toward your loans by applying for thousands of scholarships or grants and earning Bold Points* daily!

Federal Loans vs. Private Loans: What's the Difference?

Federal student loans are government-funded, have fixed interest rates (don't change), and offer you a few ways to change your repayment plan if things get tough. They can also potentially forgive your loan if you're working in public service.

Private student loans, though, are typically offered by banks or other financial places and may feature variable interest rates that are subject to change. These loans often involve a credit score assessment and may have less flexible terms for adjusting your payment plan. And forget about the forgiveness stuff.

Federal Student Loans

These student loans are usually a better deal than private companies. Why? They have fixed interest rates. Plus, they're more flexible when it comes to paying them back. In addition, you can put off payments for a while if you need to or even reduce your payments if times get tough.

Direct Subsidized Loans

This student loan is a federal loan where the government pays the interest while you're in school at least half-time, during the first six months after you leave school and before your monthly payments begin, and during any deferment period (specific periods facing economic hardship, or serving in the military).

These loans are available to undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need. The amount you can borrow is determined by your school and cannot exceed your financial need.

student loan repayment

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Unlike subsidized loans, the interest accumulates while you're in school and during any grace period or deferment period. This means that if you don’t pay the interest as it accumulates, it will be added to the principal amount of your loan.

These loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate students and are not based on financial need. The amount you can borrow is determined by your school and depends on your education costs and other financial aid you receive.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are the kind you get from non-government sources, such as private lenders like banks, credit unions, or other financial institutions. Here's what makes them stand out:

Interest Rates Can Change: Unlike government student loans with their set-in-stone interest rates, private student loans can have variable rates. This means the interest rate might go up or down over time, changing how much you need to pay back.

Credit Scores Matter: When you apply for a private loan, according to TransUnion, they often assess your credit score. A higher score can lead to more favorable interest rates, whereas a lower score may influence the rates offered. This assessment helps lenders manage risk and offers borrowers various options based on their financial history.

Co-Signer Often Needed: If you're just starting out and don't have much credit history, you might need someone like a parent to co-sign the loan with you. This person is promising to pay back the loan if you can't.

Less Flexible on Repayments: These loans don't usually offer the same kind of flexible repayment plans as federal loans. So, if you run into financial trouble, you might not have as many options.

No Loan Forgiveness: Generally, these loans don't offer forgiveness programs like some federal loans do. This means you're on the hook for the full repayment term and amount you borrowed, plus accrued interest due in your month's payment.

Other Kinds of Student Loans

PLUS Loans: For parents of undergraduate students or graduate/professional students themselves. Think of them as a helping hand with additional payments from Mom and Dad (or the bank playing their role).

Perkins Loans: Awarded to students with exceptional financial need. Perkins Loans come with low-interest rates and potential cancellation benefits, making this kind of student loan a great option for those who qualify!

It’s important to carefully read loan term agreements to fully understand repayment plans, interest rates, and how a loan, which may depend on credit and other factors, can impact your financial future.

paying off student loans

Frequently Asked Questions to Pay Off Your Student Loans Quickly

Why is it important to pay off student loans quickly?

Paying off student loans fast means you'll spend less on interest in the long run. Plus, it frees up your income for other things, like saving for a house or starting a business. It's also a huge relief mentally – less debt equals less stress.

Can I really get my student loan forgiven?

Yes, in some cases. If you work in public service, for example, you might qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness after making payments for ten years. But remember, there are specific requirements you need to meet. To see if you qualify, consult the FAFSA website.

How do extra or biweekly payments help me pay off student loans faster now?

Making additional payments reduces your principal balance quicker, which, according to Federal Student Aid, means you pay less interest over time. Biweekly payments add up to one extra full payment each year, speeding up the repayment timeline to your payoff date and reducing total interest.

Are there any tax benefits to having student loans?

Yes, you can often deduct the interest you pay on your student loan from your taxable income. This can lower your tax bill, which is a nice little bonus for paying off your student loans early. For more information, check the IRS website.

By regularly applying for scholarships, using the Bold Debit Card that contributes to your student loan payments, and seeking out applicable grants, you can get more money to pay off student loans!

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Jaeme Velez
Content Writer

About Jaeme

Jaeme Velez is an exceptionally dynamic writer, researcher, and avid enthusiast for science and technology. He brings a deep understanding of securing scholarships, obtaining student loans, and navigating the transition from community college to university.

As a first-generation college student, Jaeme began pursuing the dramatic arts and made a significant transition to pursuing academic studies at L.A. Valley College, focusing on Communication and English. He graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Creative Writing at Columbia University in the city of New York. His academic excellence has been recognized through the Casdin Family Scholarship Award and his membership in the Columbia University Honor Society.

Jaeme's academic path is marked by a profound passion for literature and storytelling, particularly in exploring the confluence of diverse cultures and languages while addressing social disparities. Alongside his literary interests, Jaeme maintains a keen curiosity for science and technology, actively engaging in research and projects related to Artificial Intelligence, Design, and human-computer interaction.

Experience

Balancing work and full-time studies as a first-generation college student has endowed Jaeme with a wealth of experience and insights. In his role as a Content Writer at Bold.org, Jaeme shares invaluable wisdom and advice, drawing from his personal journey to provide the guidance he wishes he had received at the start of his academic journey. 

His work is fueled by the desire to equip the next generations of students with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate their unique academic paths. From financial literacy to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Jaeme strives to contribute to the ongoing discourse on education and support the next generations of scholars, regardless of their age, background, or current stage in life, as they traverse the complexities of higher learning.

Since joining the Bold.org team in 2023 as a Content Writer, Jaeme has employed his distinctive background as a first-generation student alongside his familiarity with scholarships and student loans to guide students through the intricacies of academic life, emphasizing that every student's journey is distinct and worthy of recognition. 

Through his writing and advocacy, Jaeme leverages his personal and professional experiences to provide comprehensive support to students. He is dedicated to empowering students and addressing the challenges they encounter in their pursuit of higher education. 

Quote from Jaeme

“Who is the person? What's their problem? Do your research. Offer solutions.”

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