August 14, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Paying Back Your Student Loans

Whether you’re itching to get out of debt right away or hoping to balance loan payment plans with goals like retirement or graduate school, there’s a smart solution available. We’ve compiled resources to help you find a payback plan that works for any situation. This post covers broad student-loan related topics, including forgiveness, consolidation, and other terms you’ll need to know.

  1. Pay your student loans off early

If you have fewer or smaller loans, or if your loans have high interest rates that would cost much more over time, paying student loans back early may be the best option for you. Provided, of course, you can pay them off affordably, which is possible!

  1. Prioritize

Do you have multiple loans? Are they from different lenders? Are you keeping track of different interest rates and loan terms? Your loans may be overwhelming, but here’s the good news, you don’t have to pay everything back at once. Like any big task, break this one down into small, manageable pieces.

  • Figure out which loans to pay back first.
  • Find the best way to organize multiple student loans.
  • Understand what grace periods, deferment, and forbearance really mean.


  1. Know your options

Maybe you’re trying to select the right payment plan. Or you’d like to lower your interest rate if possible, but you don’t know how. Once you’ve taken stock of what you have to repay and which loans are a priority, investigate your repayment options.

  1. Think long term

Are you making life changes, either now or in the near future? These could include a job transition, a move, a large purchase (like a house or a car), an unexpected expense (such as an illness), a plan to start a family, or other events. Learn how you can factor your student loans into the bigger picture.

  • Balance emergency savings and student loan repayment.
  • Factor in retirement account contributions versus paying down debt, can you do both?
  • Consider extending the term of your loan repayment plan.
  • Include student loans in your overall budget while taking steps to financial stability.


  1. Consolidate your student loans

Federally guaranteed student loans (such as Stafford and PLUS loans) can often be paid off more quickly if you consolidate. If you have multiple federal loans with different interest rates, consider consolidation. Depending on your circumstances, it may save you money and time.

  1. Refinance your student loans

Refinancing works best for private loans (non-federal loans). Consider refinancing if you have a good credit history and stable employment, as well as multiple private loans.

  1. Consider your cosigners

It’s common for a parent or guardian to cosign a student loan, especially for an undergraduate education. While the security of a cosigner helps to get the loan, you’ll want to take steps towards independence as you pay loans back.

  1. Pursue a career in public service

Jobs in the nonprofit sector or commitments to volunteer programs may not get you a fat paycheck. They can, however, offer assistance with student loans. Different programs have different policies, but many provide payback plans or even loan forgiveness as incentives. Investigate ways that volunteer or nonprofit work can help pay down your loan.

  1. Go back to school

Maybe you’re considering another degree to get the career you want. Additional coursework may bring additional debt, but it doesn’t have to. Learn how to afford graduate school while still paying off your loans.

No matter which repayment plan you choose, think smart and don’t fall for common myths about student loans.

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