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Pay Off Student Loans Fast with These 7 Creative Strategies

Kat Tretina
pay off student loans fast
pay off student loans fast

Before You Read, Lower Your Student Loan Payment

It’s that quick & easy — really. Our free tool checks a network of top refinance lenders and shows you options in one easy chart.
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Federal & private loans are eligible
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Before You Read, Lower Your Student Payment

It’s that quick & easy — really. Our free tool checks a network of top refinance lenders and shows you options in one easy chart.

Checking rates takes 2 minutes with no impact on your credit
Federal & private loans are eligible
No maximum loan amount

Your student loans can be a significant burden. According to Experian, the average American has $35,359 in student loan debt. With such a large balance, making ends meet can be difficult, and you may have trouble keeping up with your monthly payments.

Paying off your loans early is key to your financial freedom. However, finding the money to make extra payments may sound impossible on your current salary. If you’re wondering how to pay off student loans fast, continue reading to learn about creative strategies you can use to accelerate your repayment.

Why you should pay off your debt ASAP

When you took out your student loans, you agreed to pay them back with interest. Depending on the type of loan you have, the interest rate can be quite high. Over the course of your education, your loan balance could grow, causing you to owe far more than you originally borrowed. And the longer you take to repay your loans, the more you’ll pay in interest.

For example, let’s say you had $35,000 in student loans at 7% interest and a 10-year repayment term. By the end of your repayment term, you’d pay back a total of $48,766. Interest fees would cost you $13,766.

But let’s say you made extra payments and managed to pay off your loans in eight years instead of 10. By reducing your repayment term by two years, you’d repay just $45,809. You’d save nearly $3,000 in interest charges.

Making small extra payments can help you save a significant amount of money and become debt-free sooner. Without having to worry about student loan payments, you can pursue other goals like buying a home, starting a business, or even getting married.

7 creative ways to pay off student loans

To make extra payments toward your student loans, you need to increase your income. Taking on a second job with a set schedule isn’t always possible or realistic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t earn extra money.

Here are seven ways to pay off student loans without taking on a second job.

1. Deliver groceries

If you have access to a car and don’t mind browsing supermarkets, delivering groceries through a service like Shipt or Instacart can be a lucrative side hustle. Through the app, customers submit orders, and shoppers go to the grocery store and pick up the requested items and deliver them to the customer’s home.

According to Shipt, experienced shoppers make between $16 and $22 per hour. And because you can also earn tips, the pay could be even higher.

If you worked just 10 hours a week, you could earn up to $880 each month. Even after you pay taxes on your earnings, you could earn thousands of dollars which you could use to pay down a huge chunk of your debt.

2. Host guests

If you have extra space in your apartment — or if you’re able to crash with a friend — you can make a significant amount of money by renting out your room or apartment to out-of-town tourists through AirBnB or VRBO.

Unlike getting a roommate, which is a major commitment, you can rent out your home to visitors when it suits your schedule, and you can earn more money by renting it out by night.

For example, a twin bed in a room in a New York apartment earns up to $68 per night. Rent it out for just five nights a month, and you’d get an extra $340 per month to put toward your loans.

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3. Donate plasma

Scientists and researchers use plasma to develop life-saving therapies for people with bleeding disorders and immune deficiency disorders. By donating, you can help their research while earning extra money. In fact, you could earn up to $400 per month as a new plasma donor.

To become a plasma donor, you’ll have to undergo a health screening, which includes blood samples. Visit DonatingPlasma.org to find a donor center near you.

4. Cut your hair

If you have long hair, you can make money by cutting it and selling it online through sites like HairSellOn and OnlineHairAffair. Buyers look for virgin hair — meaning hair that hasn’t been dyed or bleached — to make into wigs or hair extensions. Long, thick, healthy hair can sell for hundreds of dollars.

For example, 18” inches of brown hair of medium-thickness can sell for over $350 on HairSellOn.

5. Volunteer

If you are willing to volunteer, consider working with AmeriCorps. If you serve for 12 months, you could earn a stipend as a living allowance — and get health insurance — and receive up to $6,195 to repay your student loans.

As an AmeriCorps member, you’ll work for community or non-profit organizations while doing service projects, helping impoverished students, or providing aid after a disaster.

6. Ask your employer for help

More and more employers are recognizing the strain that student loans place on employees. In an effort to retain and attract top talent, many companies are offering student loan repayment assistance.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management 2019 Employee Benefits Report, eight percent of employers offer student loan repayment programs; that’s double the amount of employers that offered that same benefit in 2018.

It works much like a retirement plan match; your employer will match any payments you make toward your student loans, up to an annual maximum. With your employer’s help, you can accelerate your debt repayment and save money.

Talk to your human resources department to see if your company currently offers a student loan repayment program. If not, suggest it as a potential benefit.

7. Move to another state

If you’re willing to relocate to a new state, you could be eligible for student loan repayment assistance. The following states will help you with your student loans if you move there:

  • Kansas: In select rural counties in Kansas, new residents could receive up to $3,000 per year for up to five years to repay their student loans.
  • Maryland: If you have student loan debt and want to buy a home, Maryland’s SmartBuy program offers up to $40,000 in student loan repayment assistance for first-time homebuyers.
  • North Dakota: If you work in science, engineering, mathematics, or technology, you could be eligible for up to $6,000 of awards for student loan repayment if you work in North Dakota.
  • Rhode Island: If you work in Rhode Island in science, technology, mathematics, or healthcare, you could be eligible for up to $6,000 in student loan repayment assistance.

Paying off your student loans

If you’re struggling with student loan debt, it’s important to pay it off as soon as possible to avoid costly interest charges. By making extra payments toward your loans, you can reduce your repayment term and save money, helping you build a more secure financial future. If you owe more than $100K, read our guide on how to pay off $100K+ in student loans.

If you’re looking for other ideas on how to pay off student loans fast, consider student loan refinancing to reduce your interest rate. You can use Purefy’s rate comparison tool to get offers from multiple lenders at once, helping you find the best deal.

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Ascent Rate Disclosure

Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Ts&Cs.

Rates are effective as of 12/1/2023 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized back account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates.

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details.

SoFi Rate Disclosure

3 SoFi Rate Disclosure:

Fixed rates range from 4.49% APR to 8.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 5.09% APR to 8.99% 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 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. 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.

ISL Rate Disclosure

Earnest Rate Disclosure

2 Earnest Rate Disclosure:


Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 5.44% APR to 9.99% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 5.97% 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.

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THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO MAKE ANY PAYMENT OR TAKE ANY OTHER ACTION IN RESPONSE TO THIS OFFER.

Earnest Rate Disclosure

Rates displayed include the 0.25% Auto Pay discount. You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment from a checking or savings account. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 4.67% APR to 16.15% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 5.64% APR to 16.45% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan origination 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. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada. 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. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.

Nine-month grace period is not available for borrowers who choose our Principal and Interest Repayment plan while in school.

Earnest clients may skip one payment every 12 months. Your first request to skip a payment can be made once you’ve made at least 6 months of consecutive on-time payments, and your loan is in good standing. The interest accrued during the skipped month will result in an increase in your remaining minimum payment. The final payoff date on your loan will be extended by the length of the skipped payment periods. Please be aware that a skipped payment does count toward the forbearance limits. Please note that skipping a payment is not guaranteed and is at Earnest’s discretion. Your monthly payment and total loan cost may increase as a result of postponing your payment and extending your term.

Loan Eligibility criteria: Eligible students must: 1) For college Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors, attend, or be enrolled to attend, a Title IV school full-time. For college Seniors and Graduate students, attend, or be enrolled to attend, a Title IV school at least half-time; and 2) be pursuing a Bachelor’s or Graduate degree. Earnest private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information, self-certification of loan amount, and school certification.

Responsible borrowing tip: Explore all scholarship, grant and federal options before applying for a private loan.

Earnest Private Student Loans are made by One American Bank, Member FDIC. One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104.

Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC, 535 Mission St., Suite 1663 San Francisco, CA 94105, NMLS #1204917, with support From Navient Solutions, LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by agencies of the United States of America.

Advertiser Disclosure:

THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO MAKE ANY PAYMENT OR TAKE ANY OTHER ACTION IN RESPONSE TO THIS OFFER.

ELFI Rate Disclosure

4 ELFI Rate Disclosure:

Education Loan Finance is a nationwide student loan debt consolidation and refinance program offered by Tennessee based SouthEast Bank. ELFI is designed to assist borrowers through consolidating and refinancing loans into one single loan that effectively lowers your cost of education debt and/or makes repayment very simple. Subject to credit approval. See Terms & Conditions. Interest rates current as of 10/13/2023. The interest rate and monthly payment for a variable rate loan may increase after closing, but will never exceed 9.95% APR. Interest rates may be different from the rates shown above and will be based on the term of your loan, your financial history, and other factors, including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history. For example, a 10-year loan with a fixed rate of 6% would have 120 payments of $11.00 per $1,000 borrowed. Rates are subject to change.

ELFI Rate Disclosure

Education Loan Finance is a nationwide student loan provider offered by Tennessee based SouthEast Bank. ELFI is designed to assist students financially with receiving their education. Subject to credit approval. See Terms & Conditions. Interest rates current as of 12/11/2023. Variable interest rates may increase after closing but will never exceed 18.00%. Interest rates may also differ from the rates shown above. The term of your loan, financial history, and other factors, including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history can affect the interest rate. For example, a 10-year loan with a fixed rate of 7% would have 120 payments of $11.61 per $1,000 borrowed. Rates are subject to change.

College Ave Rate Disclosure

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC.. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. If a payment is returned, you will lose this benefit. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
Minimum loan amount $1,000, as certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive.
This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
Information advertised valid as of 1/1/2024. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

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