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.
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.
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.