12 Creative Ways to Pay Off Student Loans

Calling student debt a burden feels like a massive understatement. On average, federal student loan borrowers owe a starting $37,014 on average. As a result, they’re typically paying hundreds of dollars a month for 10 to 20 years, if not longer.

Since student loans can derail your budget, finding ways to tackle them quickly is wise. Here’s a look at 12 creative ways to pay off student loans.

1. Launch a Side Hustle

Generally speaking, the easiest way to pay off student loans fast is by boosting your income to make larger payments manageable. If you can’t do that through your current job, then a side hustle could be your best bet.

Side hustles can take many shapes and forms. You could freelance in a niche that aligns with your career or do something completely different, depending on your preference. Dog walking, rideshare driving, craft selling, and Airbnb hosting are all solid choices. You could also sell stock photography, work as a social media manager, or get a part-time gig as a virtual assistant.

Consider where your interests and passions lie. Then, see if you can turn that into a side hustle.

2. Get Friendly with Rebate Apps and Sites

Rebate apps and websites let you get money back on purchases. As long as you’re buying items you’d need otherwise, that extra cash can be a great way to speed up your student loan repayment.

Some rebate apps and sites will issue checks or make deposits into PayPal or bank accounts, allowing you to send the money to your loan servicer after you cash out. Others may only offer gift cards. However, you can always send an extra payment that equals that amount. Then, apply the gift card to a regular shopping trip to even things out.

3. Eliminate Housing Costs with the Right Job

There are several kinds of work that allow you to eliminate one of the most expensive parts of any budget: housing costs. For example, you could become a professional house sitter and line up gigs to happen one right after another. Some hotels and resorts will give you a free room as part of your employment. The same can be true if you work as an apartment building superintendent.

Cruise ship jobs also commonly come with room and board, allowing you to save on housing and food. Plus, you’ll get to travel, which can be a nice perk.

4. Try Veganism

When it comes to food costs, meat and dairy can be surprisingly expensive. Since that’s the case, going vegan could be a way to free up some extra cash that you can put toward your student loan.

Just make sure that you speak with a medical professional first, particularly if you have dietary restrictions or any health conditions. They’ll be able to help you ensure that all of your nutritional needs are met.

5. Sell Plasma

Many plasma centers pay a pretty penny, particularly for repeat donors. In some cases, it can help you bring in an extra few hundred dollars a month, depending on your location.

Selling plasma is typically a low-key activity, too. You’ll simply sit in a chair while the machine does the work, and you get your red blood cells back when you’re done, preventing much of the wooziness that can come from blood donations.

While there, you could tackle another activity. For example, you could read or nap. If you prefer, you could bring in a laptop and tackle a work assignment or handle a freelance project. Essentially, any activity you might do while seated at a coffee shop is potentially fair game, so keep that in mind.

6. Send Your Tax Refund to Your Loan

If you get a sizeable tax refund, sending all of the money to your student loan could let you take hundreds or thousands of dollars off of the balance in one quick move. Along with reducing your balance, it will limit the total amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan.

One benefit of this approach is it doesn’t necessarily require much ongoing discipline, as you don’t have to alter your budget during the year to use the strategy. As long as you commit to making that payment, that’s all of the willpower you’ll need.

7. Round Up When Tracking Your Spending

Tracking your spending is a great way to stay on target with your budget. However, if you take an extra step and round up every time you log a transaction, it also gives you a chance to make more headway on your student loans.

With this approach, you use the excess created when you round up to save money for extra student loan payments. You can let the excess collect in your account and send it as a payment at the end of the month or pay period. If you’re worried that you’ll lose track of what you set aside, shuttle the rounded-up amount to a separate account for safekeeping until it’s time to send it to your loan servicer.

8. Switch to Cash, and Stash the Change

Similar to the strategy above, switching to cash and setting aside the change to make extra student loan payments can work well. In most cases, it won’t feel like you’re making a major sacrifice because the amount of change you collect each time feels small. However, it can add up surprisingly fast.

Plus, by going with a cash-only approach for all of your day-to-day spending, you may be less inclined to overspend. Many people perceive cash and cards differently, with the latter feeling more detached and ambiguous. As a result, the move to cash can make you more aware of how much you’re spending.

With this option, you’ll want a set place to collect your change, such as a jar. Then, when the container gets full, you can get it deposited and send that exact amount to your student loan.

9. Move to a New State

Some states, counties, and cities have offered incentives to get younger people to move to the area. Usually, this happens in the form of student loan repayment assistance.

For example, the Kansas Rural Opportunity Zones program has several options that could help you reduce your student debt. For qualifying healthcare professionals, the Michigan State Loan Repayment Program could be a solid option for tackling up to $300,000 in student loan debt.

While these programs are a bit rare, and many come and go, it’s an option worth exploring if you’re open to relocating. Just make sure you read all of the details carefully before committing to a move, allowing you to confirm that you’ll qualify first.

10. Set Half the Payment Aside Every Two Weeks

If you get paid biweekly, one easy way to get a little ahead on your student loans is to set half of the payment aside from every paycheck. By doing that, you can potentially capture a few benefits.

First, if your lender supports biweekly payments, you can send the money to your loan right away. That slightly reduces the amount of interest you’ll pay, making it easier to chip away at your balance faster.

Second, you end up collecting a total of 13 loan payments over the course of a year this way. That allows you to send an extra payment every year, potentially knocking a significant amount of time and interest off of your loan.

11. Get a Job That Qualifies for Loan Forgiveness

While this approach can take time, it’s a solid option for recent graduates who want to reduce how long they’ll have to worry about student loans. With many of the programs, you simply need to make a certain number of qualifying payments while employed in a particular field, industry, or role.

There are several kinds of employers that can help you qualify for loan forgiveness. One of the most common options people pursue is public service. Through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, individuals working for eligible government agencies and qualified not-for-profit organizations can get the remaining balance of their loans forgiven after making 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full-time for an eligible employer.

Another commonly pursued option is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. With that, you’d need to work for a qualifying low-income school or educational service agency for at least five consecutive academic years. If you do, you may get up to $17,500 of a qualifying loan forgiven.

12. Find an Employer Offering Student Loan Assistance

For borrowers that prefer traditional employers, seeking out an opportunity with a company that offers student loan assistance as a perk could help you pay off your student loans faster. With this, the business may send a certain amount to your loan servicer each month or might provide a lump sum payment to knock your balance down.

While this benefit is relatively rare, it is offered by some companies. Additionally, it’s something you could potentially negotiate for, so keep that in mind.