How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST

Back in November of 2012, I wrote about my $40,000 worth of student loan debt. This was the total amount of student loans that I accumulated while I was getting my undergraduate and graduate degrees. When I wrote that post, I had hardly paid anything towards my student loans. Interest was slowing building up, but…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 31, 2023

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Back in November of 2012, I wrote about my $40,000 worth of student loan debt. This was the total amount of student loans that I accumulated while I was getting my undergraduate and graduate degrees. When I wrote that post, I had hardly paid anything towards my student loans. Interest was slowing building up, but not that much, as most of my loans were still being deferred.

Ever since that post was published, I have been attacking my student loans like crazy. I have been applying any extra money towards my student loans, and I am now proud to say that they are almost gone. We have enough money in the bank to completely pay them off, but have chosen to wait as we don’t want to withdraw everything out of our emergency fund to pay my student loans off. We don’t want to tap into retirement funds as well, so those funds will stay where they currently are.

As a refresher, I graduated in May of 2010 with my B.A. in Management and my B.S. in Business Administration. I applied for jobs and was hired on at a financial firm right after I graduated. I then took a year off from school and decided to go back for my Finance MBA. I then graduated in August of 2012 with my Finance MBA. I continued working full-time throughout this and still hold my same job today. I graduated with a decent amount of debt, but I am happy that I don’t have more.

I am guilty of taking out more in student loans than I needed. Right after high school, I needed a place to live and I probably took out an extra $1,000 or $2,000 to help fund my living. So, not too horrible, but that’s still an extra couple of thousand that I probably should not have taken out.

June is my student loan payoff month.

I am so close to being done with student loans forever. I am very grateful for everything that has happened in my life, and I do realize that when it comes to student loans, that I have been lucky with the fact that they will be gone so quickly. I have worked very hard though!

I started by working on my extra income. As you all know, my extra income has been through the roof lately. I’m glad that I am able to share my journey with my extra income with you all. I hope that I have been helpful with all of my posts. I never thought that my extra income would be anywhere near where it is today, and thankfully to it I am able to pay off my student loans much more quickly.

I also have been attacking my student loans according to interest rate.  The loans with the highest interest rates are the ones that I have been eliminating first. It has been nice watching each student loan disappear!

What are you doing to eliminate your loans? How much do you pay each month towards them?

Did you take out more than you needed?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. K. Westbrook

    I have been working a few jobs just to get by. My loans are triple your amount. I took more out to pay for rent and all living expenses so I could focus on school and not worry about money.
    My recent post Hello world!

    1. I'm sorry. Do you have an action plan to eliminate them?
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  2. Dylan

    I love the infographics on their website! I'm such a visual person so it really helps to see graphics. The one about coffee hits home…. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

    1. I love infographics as well. Thanks for entering ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  3. I am extremely fortunate to never have had student debt. Your efforts are extremely impressive. Like Glen, I'm also interested in what your plans for that money are once the loans are paid off?
    My recent post The Simple, Effective Approach to Investing (Part 4): Implementing Your Investment Plan

    1. I'm jealous Matt! Life would be so much easier without them.
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  4. That's so awesome you are eliminating your student debt! My wife and I were talking just a couple days ago how awesome it would be to NOT have student loans…though we aren't attacking them like you are. Perhaps now that I have some more side income I can start putting more towards it. We'll see.

    Also – awesome giveaway! I'll be sure to get signed up and leave a comment that I did.
    My recent post Most Content on the Web about Student Loans is Pointless

    1. Thanks DC! And yeah, if it weren't for my extra income, I would still have a ton of student loans left.
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  5. That's great that they're almost paid off! I bet you can't wait to send in that final payment!

    1. WOOHOOO! I can't wait until I pay my last payment. I'll have to throw a party.
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  6. You know we're doing a lot to attack Tori's student loans! We pay as much as we can every month after our normal expenses and hopefully they'll be gone one day…

  7. Mami2jcn

    I signed up for SALTMoney.

    What I learned from their article "The Limits of Rewards Cards" is that even if your credit card APR is listed as “fixed”, the company still has the power to change it— all fixed means is that they’re required to give you a heads up before doing so. I think a lot of people don't know that.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    mami2jcn at gmail dot com

  8. We plan on saving for a down payment for our next house. ๐Ÿ™‚
    My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  9. graduateliving

    I took out $30,000+ for a graduate degree (no undergraduate debt), and I'm now continuing on for a PhD in my field (as a funded student). Between splitting costs with my partner, living frugally in a fairly expensive city, and having a side-hustle, I'm able to throw $300+ a month at my interest-bearing loans (one of which is already paid-off), even though I technically don't HAVE to pay on them (since I'm still in school). I'm hoping to have all my interest-bearing loans gone by the time I graduate!

    1. That is awesome! I hope they are gone ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  10. This must be one of the best feelings for you. I paid off debt a year ago and felt like a new man. But my debt was only 15k. It's a lot but it's a far cry from 40k. Congrats to you for doing it and inspiring others with your story.
    My recent post Advertisement Ideas: 10 Ways To Promote Your Site

  11. John S @ Frugal Rules

    That's awesome you're so close to having the student loans paid off Michelle! I paid mine off last January and was such an awesome feeling not to see that monthly amount go out anymore.

  12. Janice @ Whiz Silver

    Great to hear that you're clearing your debt in no time. I can totally understand how liberating it feels. I'm just a month earlier than you in clearing close to $25,000 in student loan by paying $500 per month. Enjoying my debt free period now!

  13. Ree Klein

    First and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS, for being so focused on torching your student loan debt. You are a great role model! I can't answer any of your questions because I never went to school with the goal of coming out with a degree. So, I never took out student loans (I had lots of other debt, just not student loans!).

    I'm gravely worried, however, that student loan debt is ruining lives. It's not debt that can be swept under the BK carpet. And, so many parents are hocking their future security to make it easy on their kids that I see disaster looming there, too.

    Keep up the great work!

  14. Stephen at SE

    I think right now were are just throwing a predetermined amount of our money on our loan and then when we get unexpected extra money that all goes to it. I think the hardest part for us is simply waiting for the months to go by as it shrinks! Keep at it!

  15. Allison

    Yahoo! Almost paid off…so proud of you. You are a pf rock star!!
    My recent post This Wine is Making me Awesome, Weekend Edition

  16. I think SALT is great – they are getting ready to partner with the school I work for and I just sat in on the first meeting! I'm starting grad school this summer, so I'm gearing up to pay back my loans. I'm going to start paying on them NOW, rather than waiting until I've completed it. I'll hope to pay about $200-300 a month.

    1. That is awesome! I hope your loans are gone quick ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  17. Liz

    We budget like crazy to make sure we are spending our money appropriatel. Anything left goes towards paying off ourntudent loans!

  18. Julie W

    Honestly, I didn't have a large student loan, just about $5,000, because I worked 3 jobs while attending school to pay for it at the time. But credit cards are another story. I'm currently doing the snowball technique, where I pay the minimum amount on all but one, and pay as much as I can toward that one until paid off, and have paid off two in three months. It feels so rewarding to pay off a credit card!

    1. I worked full-time through college also, but I lived on my own and spent my money on stupid things like clothes! UGH! I still regret that.
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  19. Raki A

    I am working two jobs to pay off the loans. In retrospect, I think I took more loan than was needed but now I'm actively working to pay it off as soon as possible.

    1. When do you think that your loans will be gone? Good job on working two jobs to pay them off more quickly! ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  20. We have over $150k of student loan debt: two undergrad degrees, 2 graduate degrees. We are just now starting to make them a priority– and to answer your question, yes, we took out more than we needed. We were living way beyond our means– not nearly as financially savvy in our early 20's….
    My recent post Saturday Shopping & Sticking to the Plan

    1. We were the same. We spent some of the extra money on going out to eat. Not very smart of us.
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  21. colleen

    Currently trying to get a handle on my student loans. I took out more than I needed to pay off previous loans, so that I now only have two loans (as opposed to 5 before). I'm trying to pay off the one with a smaller balance first, then I will tackle the BIG one.

    1. Good luck! I hope they are gone quickly ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  22. Right now I'm focusing on paying off some other debts with much higher interest rates (or potentially higher rates). I personally have just under $10,000 in loans taken out and my girlfriend has somewhere around $25,000. Since she took these loans out before we met, I'm not sure how much of that was necessary but I know for sure I took out more than I needed. Probably about $2,000 more.
    My recent post It’s Not About What You Want, It’s About What You See

      1. We're shooting for January 1st 2019 being our first full day without debt.
        My recent post It’s Not About What You Want, It’s About What You See

        1. Awesome! It'll come sooner than you think ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Tahoe girl

    Our student loan story is really a nightmare story,so I won't go into it. But we will never finish paying them while we're alive, unless a miracle occurs. I'm happy you made these choices. My advice to others is dont ignore them( which was done inadvertently because of a lawyer), part of the nightmare story. Anyway, we will start a repayment program. You can read some of my story on my blog.

    1. What's your blog link? I'm sorry about your nightmare student loans.
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  24. I am happy to report that I am loan free! I did not go to a fancy college so there was no student debt in my past. In life, the only loan I ever took out was for a modest mortgage, which I paid off not in 30 years but in 12. I always pay my credit card bills in full. Debt just makes me anxiety-ridden, so I avoid it. But I am in a situation now that is not ideal. My hubs and I were hit hard by the downturn in the economy and now find ourselves prematurely retired, with only one social security check coming in. As for the Salt site, I can see that it would be a helpful tool for money management and greater financial savvy.

  25. Sarah

    Four years after graduating, my husband still has just under $50K in student loans. We have been paying the minimum ($515 per month) while focusing on wiping out other debt with higher interest rates. Now that our other debt is gone, I'm hoping to put an extra $300 to $500 per month towards the student loans.

    I know we have a long way to go in wiping them out completely (at least 2-3 years)… but by paying off individual loans we can at least reduce the minimum monthly payments and cut out a lender or two.

    1. 2-3 years is not bad at all. Good luck and good job!
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  26. Lisa M

    When my Grandmother passed she left me the money to pay off my student loan in full

    1. Sorry about your grandma, but that was very nice of her.
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  27. Melanie T

    I visited Salt and learned the difference between net and gross income. Luckily I was able to pay off my student loans within a few months of graduating with hard-earned savings!

  28. Fortunately I don't have any student debt but I know it can be a real weight around the neck for a lot of people. Sounds like you're doing a great job of getting rid of yours Michelle. Loving the Giveaway!
    My recent post Simple Ways to Save Money

  29. Pretired Nick

    It's sad how many people are getting out of school with massive school debt these days. I didn't take out any significant loans when I was in school so I had a lot of freedom when I graduated. I can't imagine getting out with that kind of debt hanging over my head.

    1. Yeah I wish I would have had less! Not to make excuses, but I had to move out right after high school and pay for everything myself. It was tough!
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  30. plantingourpennies

    It's going to feel so good to have them knocked out! Congrats!

  31. Tina

    I didn't have any student loans however I am scrimping and saving to put away some funds into 529's for my 2 kiddos.

    1. That's good Tina. Your kids are lucky ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  32. kjstrohs

    I have right around $30,000 in student loans. Currently, I'm able to pay the minimum payment (around $300) plus put an additional $200-300 a month towards paying them off.

    I want them gone, and have really cut back my spending in pretty much all categories so I can put as much towards paying them off as possible. Still have a long way to go. I'm also looking at ways to generate extra income to pay them off.

    1. That's good that you are making extra payments. Hopefully they are gone soon!
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  33. I took out enough to cover tuition – I never had anything extra once the money was disbursed to my college. I only have about $15k in student loans, which isn't crazy compared to everyone else, but I still want them gone ASAP. Once I have settled into living in an apartment and getting a budget together, I plan on attacking them. Until then, I don't want to be throwing money at them when I can't afford to. My minimum payment is $200, but I pay $250-300 right now. I'm hoping to up that to $400 later this year, and more next year!
    SALT looks like an interesting site as well, I'll have to browse around there.
    My recent post Saving Your Money: Why It’s Important

    1. Sounds like you have a good plan. Thanks for stopping by!
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  34. debtroundup

    I didn't have student loans, but I sure did have loans. The only thing I did was make extra money, stick to a very strict budget and push any money I had to my loans. It took some time, but I finally got there.

  35. Keren

    I have two Bachelors Degrees and OF COURSE I took out more than I needed. I was young and naive and didn't know any better! Boy if I could kick my old self in the butt! My personal student loan debt is nearly $39K and I graduated 8 years ago! Ouch, that stung to type that out.
    My recent post The Incredible Benefits of Using Coconut Oil

    1. When do you think your debt payoff date is Keren?
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  36. Kelly R.

    I do not have any student loans, however, I am determined to have my credit cards paid off before the end of this year! I am paying way more than the minimum payment to try to speed it along. Congrats on being so close to paying your loans off!

  37. desilove

    I absolutely took out more than I needed. I just didn't know. My mom had gone to a community college in the 80's but didn't graduate and my dad barely graduated from high school. They were clueless and I didn't know any better. I also made the mistake of listening to chirping grandparents saying that my chosen school/program/career path would never go anywhere. After 3 years and tens of thousands of dollars, I transferred into the program I originally wanted and basically had to start over. I at least landed jobs straight out of college, so that's something, at least?
    My recent post Weekly Spending Update, Vacation Edition

    1. That is good that you landed a job right out of college. ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  38. The Norwegian Girl

    so excited for you finishing of your debt so quickly! I´m still a student, so I haven´t started my downpayment, but when I do, I want to go at it aggressively!!

  39. darlene bohannon

    really glad you are getting them paid off. i finally got mine paid off from 2008. it was a long hard struggle ,but well worth it.

  40. steve weber

    student debt seems like it's more common these days for older people, I'm happy you are taking steps to get rid of it!

  41. debtperception

    FREEDOM! Congratulations! I can't imagine what it would be like to pay off my student loan debt! I am trying to find a job, any job to put 100% of my income towards my loans but it's proving to be difficult and very frustrating. I need to try figuring out ways to increase my income by working from home. My minimum payment is $360, which my co-signer pays for because I'm unemployed. Anything else I make goes towards my loans (100%). I took out loans for tuition, housing and supplies (my part time job covered transportation and food) and my loans gained $17,000 in interest while I was attending (completely didn't understand the terms of the loans). When I entered repayment, that amount was capitalized and 3 years later I'm (co-signer) is still working on getting the loans down to the originally borrowed amount. It's so damn frustrating!
    My recent post Happy Memorial Day & Vacation Planning

    1. Thanks! And I hope yours start getting attacked and eliminated soon ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  42. jbutler1914

    Congrats for being so close to paying off your loans. I have a little over 50k that I will be actively paying off in September.

  43. vandango33

    This site is awesome! I learned that you can appeal your financial aid award letter! What?! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I appealed for more grants when I was in college and it worked too ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  44. Probably Rachel

    I came out of undergrad with way more in loans than any person should have, because my family couldn't afford to pay for my education, but made "too much" money for significant assistance. I worked hard for scholarships and worked all through school, now my husband and I are chipping away at our combined school school debt and directing the extra in our budget to principal payments on the highest interest loans.
    My recent post What to Wear to a Graduation

  45. Chris H.

    I've never had to deal with student loan debt because I never went to college but like you I would work to pay it off as fast as possible. Nothings better than the feeling of not have another debt to burden your finances.
    My recent post How Many Credit Cards Should You Have

  46. livivua

    i learned that most won't get that high paying job your degree gives you until you are in your 30's most likely

  47. Gretchen

    I'm working on paying off my student loans by attacking the highest interest loans first-like you! I did take out extra loan $$ and now it's coming back to bite me in the hiney, but we learn from our mistakes (I certainly have, at least) and am working on paying them off. I really like that the SALT site focuses on paying off student loans as well as life lessons in budgeting, etc… Thanks for the link, I'd never heard of it before!

    1. Yes, we all definitely learn from our mistakes. Thanks for leaving a comment ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  48. nicoleandmaggie

    My parents (and very generous scholarships) paid for my college… We did pay off DH's loans by being crazy frugal the first year we were married and starting grad school in a new (expensive) city. Like, I lost my ability to digest red meat kind of frugal. (Income: 36K, rent for tiny apartment: 20K, student loans: 10K+, everything else including furniture, income taxes, deposit etc. <6K)
    My recent post Do some people *want* to be miserable?: A deliberately controversial post

    1. That's awesome that you two were so frugal! We could definitely work on that.
      My recent post How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 Giveaway

  49. I come from a generation (a) that is in Europe and (b) when only a few went to university. So did most of today's politicians. So I can't begin to imagine what a worry it must be for you to graduate with tens of thousands of dollars debt but this has invaded us now as well as students in the UK are having to pay up to £9k a year fees plus living expenses of at least another £6k. So after a three year undergraduate degree, they will end up with about £50k debt. Our employment culture is not the same as in the US – although it is a lot more flexible than most of the rest of Europe. I think it is a terrible load and admire people who manage to pay it off so quickly. It may of course be that having such a debt round your neck concentrates the mind but I can think of better ways of encouraging that!
    My recent post Five businesses you can start today with less than £100

  50. Kate

    To pay off my student loans, I paid way more than the minimum every month by paying any extra money I earned toward them, increasing how much I paid with each raise, and rolling the payment amount to the next loan as each one was paid off.

  51. Nick @

    It is amazing how fast you can pay off debt when you really put your mind, and all your effort, towards it! Great job Michelle!
    My recent post How to Interview: Tips from A Young Professional

  52. Kathleen

    I took out the minimums. But it still took me nearly 8 years to pay them off!

  53. I just signed up on SALT Money and I learned about how to "deconstruct" my paycheck in one of their articles. Definitely an interesting topic!
    My recent post Most Content on the Web about Student Loans is Pointless

  54. 1stmillionhardest

    Congrats on digging yourself out of those loans! I was lucky enough to graduate with very little student loan debt, but I have so many friends that struggle with it that I completely understand what it takes to pay it all down. Hope you have some plans for what to do with all that money you were using for the payments!

  55. Luckily I never had major debt but I did have debt (some student loan and minimal credit card debt). I eventually paid everything off just by being frugal and cutting back – I didn't know about "side hustles" then. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I am debt free and loving it.

  56. The only loan I have left is our dang mortgage, so I'm working on paying it off by sending extra every month towards the principal ๐Ÿ™‚ Not very clever/new, but you better believe it's working!

  57. danceintherain88

    As someone who wants a healthy relationship with my credit cards, I love the "Master Your Plastic" lesson. Not only do they have helpful articles, their lessons offer personalized approaches to help managed money and debt.
    My recent post The anti-lazy bum playlist

  58. Ruby

    I did not take out more than I needed for school but probably should have thought about how much it was actually going to be!

  59. Shannon

    Great site, and important to get the SALT message out! When my husband and I married, we continued to live off of one income and used my salary to pay off our loans. It was an easy transition because we'd been used to living off our own salary anyways! Debt free in a few years and I'm so grateful.

  60. Congrats on the fast loan payoff! We just paid off our rent house a couple of months ago and are saving up to pay our current house off faster or buy another rent house. It will feel so good to eventually be debt free!
    My recent post Ways to Build Credit Without Relying Solely on Credit Cards

  61. Kris

    Congrats! I was a lucky one who came out with no debt, but am considering taking some on for grad school…

  62. Meghan

    I signed up!
    I did have high tuition and now have high interest, but I definitely took out more than I needed. I worked full time through college, and while I didn't spend loan money on many frivolous items (that I can remember), I spent my salary on whatever I wanted. I should have saved part of my income to pay for school. I did do one decently smart thing to try to rectify the err of my ways. I took out the max in federal loans to pay off the Citi private loan with 10.5% interest. I was the first in my family to go to college, and my brother has been able to learn from my mistakes, fortunately! He also had parental help, which I didn't have.

  63. Lorna

    Congratulations on seeing the end of your student loan payoff journey! I graduated with my BS in 1998 and a MS in 2004. Total students loans was about 24K. I have been paying more than the minimum but the balance was slowly decreasing. This past January I switched jobs and was able to contract with my previous employer on a part-time basis for the last 6 months in addition to my full-time job. I also worked 20-30 hours a week during tax season. Putting in all this extra time has allowed me to pay off the last $10,500 of my student loans on May 21 – just a few short days ago! Am excited to be able to utilize the money that was going to student loans to achieve additional financial goals!

  64. Shane

    I am paying the minimums on all but one of my loans with the highest interest rate, and putting everything extra a month I can towards that. Just seeing that one loan total fall has helped me immensely, at least mentally.

  65. Caitlin

    I definitely didn't take out more than I needed, and I actually returned some of my loans because I was able to live more cheaply than my school calculated I would. Right now the loans are in deferment, and I'm trying to figure out a strategy for paying them off without worrying too much about them. This is the first time I'll be in debt, and grad school loans are no joke!

  66. mrmike4587

    I've taken the sacrifice now approach. I'm throwing an extra $1000 a month at my loans and still won't be paid off until 4 years ๐Ÿ™

  67. teensgotcents

    I don't have any student loan debt and am working hard to keep it that way. Saving as a high school student is not easy but I know that it will be worth it! Thanks so much for the give away!
    My recent post Dollars and Cents with CFO Jeff Atwater

  68. Rachel

    Wow Michelle you are my hero! I took out too much for my three degrees, over $100k. I'm working on paying off credit cards and my smallest school loan. I will put my info into saltmoney and see if that helps me. I like the design of the site.

  69. LBD

    I've been concentrating on snowflaking every penny I can to my debt. Budgeted $100 for groceries and spent $75? Great, that's $20 for debt. I do strongly regret having taken out loans to get a graduate degree in the humanities…