How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast

Want to learn how to pay off student loans fast? Here’s how I paid off my $40,000 student loan debt in just 7 months. In July of 2013, I finished paying off around $40,000 in student loan debt. This still does not seem real to me. I honestly thought that I would be paying this…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: April 4, 2024

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How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast

Want to learn how to pay off student loans fast? Here’s how I paid off my $40,000 student loan debt in just 7 months.

In July of 2013, I finished paying off around $40,000 in student loan debt. This still does not seem real to me. I honestly thought that I would be paying this forever. The minimum payments scared me as well. Many people have asked me how to pay off student loans fast, and I am here to help.

We were saving for quite some time, and then towards the end I just started plopping down as much money as we possibly could towards my student loan debt.

I worked like crazy as well. We both increased our day job income significantly over the year before and put this increase in earnings towards paying off our student loans quickly.

We also never really increased our budget. Yes, we did buy new cars, but weirdly enough our budget did not increase.

This is because we switched to more frugal entertainment (such as hiking, riding our bikes, etc. – and not focusing on spending every last penny on clothing), and we also focused on cooking better meals at home for ourselves. So our income kept increasing, but our budget did not.

How to pay off student loans fast.

See if your employer will reimburse your education expenses so that you can pay off your student loans fast.

Some companies will pay your student loans quickly if you work for them. I even know of someone who receives a $2 bonus for each hour that she works for student loans.

$2 may not seem like a lot, but if you work full-time then that’s over $300 a month. $300 a month for student loans is a good amount! And, it’s free money so it can all just be put towards paying off your student loans quickly.

Reduce your interest rate for your student loan repayment plan.

If you automatically pay your student loans each month or consolidate them, then sometimes you can get an interest rate reduction. With Sallie Mae, I believe the reduction is 0.25%. Not a ton, but that is something!

Pay extra towards your loans each month in order to pay off student loans fast.

If you’re wondering “How can I pay off my student loans faster?” – then this is a major tip!

You will, of course, have to start paying extra towards your loans.

Even if you don’t have a ton of spare money in your budget, even an extra $25 is important. Most people can find a spare $25 in their budget, so go and look!

Increase your income to pay off your student loans fast.

It’s no secret that I love making side income. It makes life so much easier. Without it, I definitely do not think that I would have been able to pay off my student loans as quickly.

You can completely pretend that this extra income is not in your budget, and just shuffle ALL of this extra income towards student loan debt so that you do not miss it. If you have any extra time, then I’m sure that there is something out there that you can do to make extra money.

For me, the main thing I did to make extra money was by blogging and freelancing. If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I have a tutorial that will show you how to easily make a blog of your own in just minutes. You can find the tutorial here.

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Decrease your spending for your student loan repayment plan.

There are plenty of ways to decrease your spending. Decreasing your spending can really help you pay off your loans more quickly because you can throw all of your extra income towards your student loans.

There are plenty of ways for you to lower your income. Check out the articles below:

Think about your goal for your student loan repayment plan.

Yes, student loan repayment can seem very stressful when you think about it. Many people owe thousands and thousands in student loans. And, no matter how old you are, it can seem impossible. However, think about your goal and how good life will be once all of your student loan debt is gone.

Try to not let it get you down. Think positively and attack that debt so that you can pay off your student loans fast!

There are many creative ways to pay off student loans, so if you are feeling like you don’t have much motivation, I recommend creating a vision board.

Is it smart to pay off student loans quickly?

This depends on the person and their own personal finance situation. If you have debt, then it can be a good idea to pay it off quickly.

I recommend reading Pay Off Debt Or Save Money – Is One Better For You? to help you make the decision.

How long will it take to pay off student loans?

The amount of time hat it takes you to pay off your student loans will vary. This may depend on factors such as:

Some people pay them off quickly, and others may take longer.

What are you doing to pay off your student loans fast?

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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. Michelle–I am so proud of you. You worked for a really long time to do this, and you paid them off early!!! I think the most important thing to pay off any debt is to pay more than the minimum. Like you said, even 25.00 more will help.

    Great job!!!!

    1. Thank you Allison! 🙂

  2. kelly @stayingonbudget

    I totally agree that every extra dollar you can put towards loans makes a big difference. It can help cut the long term amount of debt you are paying since the principal is reducing at a faster rate. So every dollar you pay after making an extra payment has a bigger effect. It might not feel like it at first, but it does make a big difference.
    I enrolled in auto payments I think it saves money–any little bit helps. The thing with automatic payments is that you then have to remember to make the extra payments, since just the minimum is taken out–which will never get you out of debt! : )

    1. Yes exactly! I did the automatic payments plus paid extra.

  3. I didn’t like paying rent in college so I bought a condo. The market went through the roof right after I graduated so I sold it and paid off my student loans. It was the biggest check I’ve ever received AND ever written.

    1. That is awesome Taynia!

  4. Betsy

    I’ve been trying to do extra payments at least every other month (50-100) and I feel like it’s really making big difference.

    1. That’s great Betsy. Good job!

  5. I have about a year and a bit left to pay my student loans. I throw all the extra money I have towards it, bonuses, third paychecks, side income… $18k left to go!

    1. That’s awesome. It will be gone before you know it!

  6. We’ve definitely gone the increase income and pay extra toward the loans route. It has been working well for us and we are working towards killing our student loan debt as fast as possible!

    1. WOOOOHOO Lance 🙂

  7. Andy | Income by Example

    I doubled how much I’m paying on my loans every month which brings down my 25 year loan to about 6 years. I also pay biweekly which shaves some off. Will be putting more and more side hustle income toward it so I can totally destroy these loans in a matter of a few more years. Perseverance!

    1. That is awesome! Just proves how helpful it is.

  8. You’re the best Michelle! Getting rid of these is so great. I’m down to 5k from 60. So close!!

    1. You are doing great!

  9. Delano


    We started with $175,000 in student loans in 2010 and have whittled our balance down to $47,000 now. We hope to have them paid off by the end of 2014.

    1. Wow that is amazing progress!

  10. I did similar things with my car loan. I paid them off 3.5 years ahead of the 5 year loan term. I increased my side income significantly and that helped a lot. It also made it so I didn’t get debt repayment fatigue.

    1. I think it’s the best way 🙂

  11. Christine

    I have to admit, I’m kind of freaking out about mine. I’m very lucky because I had lots of grants and scholarships so I only have about $23,000 in loans but I just put in for a deferment. There’s no way I can afford and extra couple hundred dollar bill each month and I don’t want to hurt my credit or raise my interest because I can’t make a payment. I’m hoping that while I defer for a year, I’ll have at least a few times where I can still plop down some money. I wish there was an easier way to deal with these…

    1. I’m sorry Christine. Have you tried cutting your budget or increasing your income?

  12. I agree. However, my student loans were at a fairly high interest rate and I’m still happy that I was able to eliminate them 🙂

  13. I leveraged your strategy of paying extra to my student loans – I used my side income to pay off my debt quickly. I had about $40k in loans at my peak as well!

    1. It’s a great strategy 🙂

  14. Peter

    Yes, extra payment is the way to go in any kind of loans. Student and consumer Credit Cards. Congratulation Michelle, you must be gearing up for an epic celebration party.

    1. Thanks! And they’ve been gone for a couple of months now so I’ve been celebrating for quite some time 🙂

  15. That must have been an incredible feeling to pay off those student loans. You are my inspiration! I don’t have student loans, but lots of consumer debt. The hubby and I are taking measures to overpay as much as possible and we’re working on the extra income side of things!

    1. Thomas Whittingham

      I have found when dealing with multiple debt sources that if you start by paying as much as you can towards that debt while still paying at least the minimum on the others. You can reduce debt sooner because when you are done with the lowest total amount due item you put that money towards the next lowest bill till it is paid off. This gives you the benefit of eliminating interest on one account and adding that payment to the next bill up the line. Just keep going till they are all done . It feels great each time you pay off one.

  16. Emily

    I’m so glad that you posted about this, Michelle! My boyfriend and I are aggressively trying to get our individual student loans down. I’m down to less than 9K, my boyfriend has a much, much longer way to go. We are both trying to figure out how to increase income and pay down our debts. It’s challenging, but I appreciate blogs like yours to keep the momentum going and to learn more about the world of money. 🙂

    1. Thank you Emily! When do you think they will be gone?

  17. Alexandra @ Real Simple Finances

    I am plopping an additional $200 each month on my loan with the highest interest rate. I’m possibly picking up another side job soon; if that happens, then I’ll be putting *all* that money on my loans!

  18. I am paying off the credit cards and working on earning extra money so that I can double or triple the principle payments.

  19. Charles@gettingarichlife

    Congratulation Michelle on the pay off. I once had $28,000 in student loan debt, when interest rates fell I refinanced my rental property and took cash out to pay half of it off. My renters ended up paying for my loans.

  20. Great strategy and congrats on getting rid of your student loans. My wife was lucky and had a full ride so she had no debt however I had 24k to deal with. There was no penalty to pay extra so I threw as much as I could at it by doubling my payments and trying to send another chunk of money towards it every other month. I have now paid off my student loan and trying to be equally disciplined about my mortgage but not quite there yet.

    1. That is awesome that your wife got a full ride! What was her degree in?

  21. I don’t have student loans, but this seems like a great way to pay off the debt faster. With a bit of effort and consistency you can increase your payments and get to some excellent results. I see many people don’t bother speed up their SL payment, thinking that it’s OK to pay for many years. Anyway, the faster you can become debt free, the better. Excellent job on your payment, it’s quite some work you’ve put into it 😉

  22. I didn’t have student loans when I went to University in the UK or Canada but I did work and save up to pay cash for my education along the way. I think if you get loans or save up cash either way it takes dedication and a strong work ethic to set that money aside to pay off the loans. Good for you paying off your loans so fast.

  23. Mark Ross

    I do agree with you on those. Having other sources of income can really help you pay off your debts much faster.

  24. Michelle, first of all, well done for paying down the student loans. From experience, I know how good the feeling of sending that last payment off to settle the balance is!!

    Secondly, these are great tips. Putting additional side income to the student loans reduces the interest payment on the loans each month, so more and more goes towards the capital and with enough hard work and focus, voilà, the student loans have disappeared!

  25. so envious. i know it will take me a lifetime!

    1. Thanks! And I hope yours are gone soon 🙂

  26. Awesome job on the repayment part of it. You are a winner. Having goal of paying down debt in x number of years really helps. That definitely let you think against some unnecessary spending.

  27. I just threw all of my extra income towards paying off my student loans ASAP. I didn’t get a discount from setting up auto payments or anything like that. I did consolidate so that I could get a lower interest rate however.

  28. Great job! We also increased our side income, but we did slash our budget. One of the most impactful things we did, actually, was mental: We put that loan as #1 priority in the month and it became a game to see how much we could pay it down that month. We still have just under $200k in student loans left, but we have 1 less monthly payment, which feels like a little weight has lifted off of our backs.

    1. A little weight still feels great 🙂

  29. I am putting extra payments towards debt and really pushing my limits! I want these guys done! I still have 3.3 years to go on my timeline, but I want to try to cut it down to 2.5 years.

    1. 3.3 years is awesome!

  30. Congrats on paying off your student loans! I’m sure you feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.

  31. I am working on making extra income. I am also spending less money as well.

    1. Good luck Jason 🙂

  32. Niki

    Great tips Michelle! I’d also recommend contacting your loan provider to make sure that your extra payments will go to principle, since most lenders game the system so that any ‘extra’ goes to your next payment…which is not in your best interest! I did this with my Great Lakes and Sallie Mae loans, literally took 10 minutes and probably saved me hundreds.

    1. Yes, very true. Thanks Niki!

  33. These are great tips! I’ve been considering consolidating my student loans, but haven’t made a decision yet. I’m definitely looking for ways to pay them off faster though!

  34. Luckily the student loans have been gone since beginning of July!

  35. Michelle L

    Great job Michelle