Pay Off Student Loans Fast With 7 Strategies

Pay Off Student Loans Fast With 7 Strategies

The fastest way to pay off student loans is to pay more than the minimum each month. The more you pay toward your loans, the less interest you’ll owe — and the quicker the balance will disappear.

You can use a student loan payoff calculator to see how fast you could get rid of your loans and how much money in interest you’d save. Here are seven strategies to help you pay off student loans even faster.

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Pre-qualify and compare rates with 17+ lenders to refinance your student loans through a single form in as little as three minutes.

1. Make extra payments toward the principal

There’s no penalty for paying off student loans early or paying more than the minimum. But there is a caveat with prepayment: Student loan servicers, which collect your bill, may use your extra payment to advance your due date — applying the extra amount to next month’s payment.

Advancing a student loan due date won’t help you pay off student loans faster. That’s because your extra payment will first go to any late fees and then accrued interest before hitting your principal. Instead, instruct your servicer — either online, by phone or by mail — to apply overpayments to your principal balance and to keep next month’s due date as planned.

You can make an additional payment at any point in the month, or you can make a lump-sum student loan payment on the due date. Either strategy can save you a lot of money.

For example, let’s say you owe $10,000 with a 4.5% interest rate. By paying an extra $100 every month on a standard 10-year repayment plan, you’d be debt-free about five and a half years ahead of schedule.

2. Refinance if you have good credit and a steady job

Refinancing replaces multiple student loans with a single private loan, ideally at a lower interest rate. To speed up repayment, choose a new loan term that’s less than what’s left on your current loans.

Opting for a shorter term may increase your monthly payment. But, it could help you pay the debt faster and save money on interest.

For example, refinancing a $50,000 student loan with an 8.5% interest rate and 10-year term to 6% interest on a seven-year term would save you roughly $15,000 — but your monthly payment would increase by about $87.

You’re a good candidate for refinancing if you have a credit score in at least the high 600s, a solid income and a debt-to-income ratio below 50%.

Would refinancing save you money?

Note: This calculator assumes that after you refinance, you’ll make minimum monthly payments.

Explore options for refinancing student loans

Lender Fixed APR Min. credit score Variable APR
Pay Off Student Loans Fast With 7 Strategies

Earnest Student Loan Refinance

5.0

on Earnest’s website

4.99-
9.74%

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 5.34% APR to 9.99% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 6.14% APR to 9.99% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account.

650

5.89-
9.74%

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 5.34% APR to 9.99% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 6.14% APR to 9.99% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account.

on Earnest’s website

SoFi Student Loan Refinancing

SoFi Student Loan Refinancing

4.5

on SoFi’s website

5.24-
9.99%

Fixed rates range from 5.24% APR to 9.99% APR with 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates range from 6.24% APR to 9.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay
discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 13.95% APR; 15- and 20-
year terms are capped at 13.95% APR. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 02/06/24 and are subject to change at any time. Your actual rate will be within the range
of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors.
Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding
a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one
percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.

650

6.24-
9.99%

Fixed rates range from 5.24% APR to 9.99% APR with 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates range from 6.24% APR to 9.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay
discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 13.95% APR; 15- and 20-
year terms are capped at 13.95% APR. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 02/06/24 and are subject to change at any time. Your actual rate will be within the range
of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors.
Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding
a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one
percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.

on SoFi’s website

LendKey Student Loan Refinance

LendKey Student Loan Refinance

4.5

on LendKey’s website

on Credible’s website

5.49-
9.45%

See LendKey’s full terms and conditions at https://www.lendkey.com/disclaimers

Not disclosed.

5.53-
8.70%

See LendKey’s full terms and conditions at https://www.lendkey.com/disclaimers

on LendKey’s website

on Credible’s website

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

4.5

on Education Loan Finance’s website

on Credible’s website

5.48-
8.69%

Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. https://www.elfi.com/terms/

680

5.28-
8.99%

Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. https://www.elfi.com/terms/

on Education Loan Finance’s website

on Credible’s website

Splash Financial Student Loan Refinance

Splash Financial Student Loan Refinance

5.0

on Splash Financial’s website

5.19-
9.99%

Splash Financial, Inc. (NMLS # 1630038) reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. The information you provide is an inquiry to determine whether Splash’s lending partners can make you a loan offer, but does not guarantee you will receive any loan offers. Terms and conditions apply. Products may not be available in all states. These rates are subject to change at any time. If you do not use the specific link included on this website, offers on the Splash website may include other offers from lending partners that may have a higher rate. Fixed Rate options range from 6.64% APR – 8.95% APR (without autopay). Variable rate options range from 7.60% APR (with autopay) to 7.85% APR (without autopay). Variable APRs and amounts subject to increase or decrease. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers and may require an autopay discount of 0.25%. Some of the rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) index and some are derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). Fixed loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 20 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.47% for a 12-year term would be $94.86. Variable loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 25 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.90% for a 15-year term would be $83.85.

650

5.28-
9.99%

Splash Financial, Inc. (NMLS # 1630038) reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. The information you provide is an inquiry to determine whether Splash’s lending partners can make you a loan offer, but does not guarantee you will receive any loan offers. Terms and conditions apply. Products may not be available in all states. These rates are subject to change at any time. If you do not use the specific link included on this website, offers on the Splash website may include other offers from lending partners that may have a higher rate. Fixed Rate options range from 6.64% APR – 8.95% APR (without autopay). Variable rate options range from 7.60% APR (with autopay) to 7.85% APR (without autopay). Variable APRs and amounts subject to increase or decrease. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers and may require an autopay discount of 0.25%. Some of the rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) index and some are derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). Fixed loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 20 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.47% for a 12-year term would be $94.86. Variable loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 25 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.90% for a 15-year term would be $83.85.

on Splash Financial’s website

3. Enroll in autopay

Federal student loan servicers offer a quarter-point interest rate discount if you let them automatically deduct payments from your bank account. Many private lenders offer an auto-pay deduction as well.

The savings from this discount will likely be minimal — dropping a $10,000 loan’s interest rate from 4.5% to 4.25% would save you about $144 overall, based on a 10-year repayment plan. But used with some of the above strategies, it can still help pay off student loans fast.

Contact your servicer to enroll or find out if an autopay discount is available.

4. Make biweekly payments

A bi-weekly payment is paying half of your student loan bill every two weeks instead of making one full monthly payment.

You’ll end up making an extra payment each year, shaving time off your repayment schedule and dollars off your interest costs. Use a biweekly student loan payment calculator to see how much time and money you can save.

Frequently asked questions

5. Pay off capitalized interest

Unless your loans are subsidized by the federal government, interest will accrue while you’re in school, during your grace period and during periods of deferment and forbearance. That interest capitalizes when repayment begins, which means your balance grows, and you’ll pay interest on a larger amount.

Consider making monthly interest payments while it’s accruing to avoid capitalization. Or make a lump-sum interest payment before your grace period or postponement ends. That won’t directly speed up the payoff process, but it will mean a smaller balance to get rid of.

6. Stick to the standard repayment plan

The government automatically puts federal student loans on a 10-year repayment timeline, unless you choose differently. If you can’t make extra payments, the fastest way to pay off federal loans is to stay on that standard repayment plan.

Federal loans offer income-driven repayment plans, which can lower your monthly payment but also extend the payoff timeline to 20 or 25 years. You can also consolidate student loans, which stretches repayment to a maximum of 30 years, depending on your balance.

If you can avoid these options and stick with the standard plan, it will mean a quicker road to being debt-free.

7. Use ‘found’ money

Start a side hustle to increase your income and pay off student loans faster. Sell items like clothing, unused gift cards or photos; rent out your spare room, parking spot or car; or use your skills to freelance or consult on the side.