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Paying off $100,000 or more in student debt can seem overwhelming, but it’s possible to reduce your overall loan balance or even have it forgiven. (Shutterstock)

If you owe $100,000 or more in student loans, you’re not alone. Six percent of borrowers owe more than $100,000, according to the College Board. A standard 10-year repayment plan may seem like a quick way to pay off your debt, but your monthly payment could be $1,000 or more.

These six strategies can help you pay off your student loan as quickly as possible.

Visit Credible for learn more about refinancing student loans and compare rates from several private student lenders.

1. Consider student loan forgiveness if you qualify

Before trying to pay off your loans faster, check to see if you qualify for student loan forgiveness programs. A variety of student loan forgiveness programs are available, including:

  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness for Qualified Educators with Federal Loans
  • Income-Based Repayment Plans for Eligible Federal Borrowers
  • Military personnel eligible for special reimbursement options
  • AmeriCorps Participants Eligible for a Reimbursement Scholarship

Another popular loan forgiveness program is the Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, which is only for federal student borrowers employed full-time by a government or non-profit organization. You must make loan repayments under an income-based repayment plan and make 120 qualifying payments for your direct loans to qualify.

Although federal borrowers pursuing Teacher loan forgiveness can qualify for loan forgiveness in as little as five years, borrowers working on forgiveness under the PSLF program may be eligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years of repayment. Federal borrowers on other income-oriented repayment plans are not eligible for the forgiveness for 20 to 25 years.

2. Refinance your student loans

Refinance your student loanswhat is different from consolidate them, allows you to combine multiple private and federal student loans into one large loan through a single private lender. This is a good option for borrowers who find it difficult to juggle multiple loans with high interest rates or high monthly payments. Refinancing into a single loan could lower your monthly payment or your overall interest rate.

For example, if you were trying to pay off $100,000 over 10 years with a combined interest rate of 6.8%, your monthly payment would be approximately $1,151. If you refinanced a new 10-year loan for $100,000 with an interest rate of 4.25%, you would have a monthly payment of $1,024. This would equate to a monthly savings of $126 and a lifetime savings of $15,171.

A downside of refinancing your student loans is that refinancing federal loans into a private loan will cause you to lose all federal benefits and protections, now and in the future. For example, if a law is passed to cancel federal student loans after refinancing them into a private loan, you would not qualify for this benefit. If you want to access possible federal debt forgiveness in the future, it may be more advantageous to refinance only your private student loans.


3. Pay off the loan with the highest interest rate first

To eliminate your loan balance sooner, consider using the debt avalanche method, which involves paying off your student loan at the highest interest rate first. Paying off these loans eliminates the debts that are costing you the most interest over the life of your loans. Keep in mind that you will still make your minimum monthly payment on all of your other loans; you will simply make larger payments for the higher interest rate loans.

Alternatively, you can also try the debt snowball method, which is to pay off the lowest-interest student loans first and work your way up. This may cause you to pay more interest in the long run, but it helps you to fully pay off more of your individual loans faster, alleviating that debt from your credit report.


For example, suppose you have two student loans of $50,000 for 20 years, one with an interest rate of 4% and the other with an interest rate of 6%.

If you started paying these amounts in August 2022, you will pay off each loan by August 2042. Now suppose you want to pay off your loans faster by paying a minimum of $500 per month on one of them.

If you increased your payment by $197 per month on a $50,000 loan at 4%, you would pay $500 per month and repay your loan by October 2032. Similarly, if you increase your payment by $142 per month on a $50,000 loan at 6%, you would pay $500 per month and repay your loan by March 2034.

Although you would pay off the 4% loan sooner, you would only save about $12,000 in total. However, paying off the loan 6% faster would save you about $16,000 in total. This is a savings of $4,000 that you can either apply to the remaining loan balance or save it.

If these methods don’t apply to you, you can always refinance. You can easily compare prequalified rates from several lenders using Credible.

4. Find a co-signer

If you are considering refinancing your student loans, consider add a co-signer with a good to excellent credit rating for your loan. Adding a co-signer to your application may encourage a lender to offer lower refinance interest rates because you will appear less risky.

A co-signer does not need to be a family member, but you should remember that they will be legally and financially responsible for the loan if you make late payments, miss payments, or fail to repay the loan .

5. Start a side business

You have endless opportunities to earn extra income through side businesses, like driving for ride-sharing companies, providing digital services like copywriting, or selling products like artwork, collectibles, or other goods online.

For example, if you found a side hustle paying $25 an hour, you could earn an extra $1,000 a month working as little as two overtime hours a day for a five-day workweek. Working that side hustle for 10 hours a week would double the amount of money you spend on your loans each month.

6. Stick to a budget

Whether you choose to refinance or continue to pay down your loans in earnest, one of the best ways to achieve this goal is to create a budget and stick to it. This can ensure that you have enough money to make your monthly student loan payments and help you identify areas where you can reduce your expenses and pay more for your loans instead.

The advantage of a budget is that it is as flexible as needed, which means you can readjust your plan daily if necessary. You can use a spreadsheet, track data provided by your financial institution, or a number of other free online resources that will teach you how to budget. When setting your budget, be sure to limit unnecessary spending and reduce credit card use.

To start refinancing your student loans, visit Credible and compare prequalified rates from several lenders.