7 Creative Ways to Pay Off Student Loans

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 4/08/20

Paying your student loans can appear to be a monumental undertaking, lasting years before you are finally able to shrug off the debt entirely. However, there are a wide variety of ways to help pay off your student loans more quickly, some of which can change your life in ways you would not expect. 

Here are seven of the most creative ways we’ve found to pay off your student loan debt.

Move to Kansas

Kansas has implemented “Rural Opportunity Zones” in 77 counties throughout the state. If you move to one of them, the state will forgive $3,000 of your student loans each year for five years. This means that after just five years, your student loan debt will be shortened by $15,000. Assuming an average interest rate of 6% on the standard 10-year repayment program, you stand to save over $10,000 in interest. In the long run, that’s like putting an additional $25,000 in your pocket.

Moving to Kansas may appear to be a daunting prospect, especially for those who have never moved far from home, but the state has many opportunities for those eager to make a name for themselves. Opportunities are rising quickly for those in the education and health care fields, fueling job growth the state is currently experiencing.

Make Biweekly Payments

You do not need to make your student loan payment just once a month. Instead, feel free to break it up biweekly.

Paying half the minimum payment every two weeks can work better than making the full payment monthly because there are 52 weeks per year, which means you’ll make 26 payments. You will be making, in essence, 13 full payments every year rather than 12.

Doing so will reduce the interest you face and directly shorten the life of the loan considerably. Assume for a moment that thirteenth payment will be $600, and your interest rate is 6%. If this is the first year of a standard 10-year repayment plan, then you will save an additional $413 in interest for the rest of the loan. If you continue doing the same, the savings will compound and help you drastically reduce the time it takes to repay your student loan.

This is the least costly and easiest-to-implement payment “hack” we’ve encountered. All you need to do is be willing to pay 8.34% more per paycheck to see the benefits.

Make Extra Principal Payments

Similar to paying biweekly, making an additional principal payment every month will not only cut down on the length of the note, but it will also directly impact how much interest you will be charged. Assume that your interest rate is 6%, again, and that your regular payment is $600. If you make an extra principal payment of $400 (thus bringing your total payment per month up to $1,000) you will be paying an additional $4,800 per year.

Including nine years of compounded interest, you will be cutting $8,109 off the total for your loan. Dividing that by $600, you will see that you have eliminated 13.5 payments by the end of your loan. By paying just a bit over two-thirds of your total monthly bill extra, you will save over a year’s worth of payments.

While this route amounts to hefty savings, you should only consider taking it if you have already built up an emergency fund. If you have not done so, consider using the other options discussed in this article.

Start a Side Business

Want a way to protect yourself from unemployment, boost your resume, and do something that you love – all at the same time? Consider freelancing to accomplish all of the above and then some. Last year, 35% of the U.S. workforce were freelancers, working with multiple companies doing tasks that once required going into an office and sitting bored for eight hours straight.

If you are willing to put in the time and effort, it is possible to grow your freelancing practice into a thriving side business that you can turn to when times are tough – and use to pay down your student loans when times are good.

Take this as an example: You have a passion for writing and love getting your word out to as many people as possible. So, you start freelancing as a content marketer, making a little bit with each article that you sell.

Your practice grows to the point where you can’t do it all, so you raise your rates and hire another writer and an editor to tackle the new work. Thus, you have gone from being a freelancer to an employer and small-business owner in a field that you can manage via a tablet or smartphone.

Make a Life-Saving Donation

People around the world donate blood and blood plasma daily, helping keep hospitals in stock with the right blood type in case of an emergency. 

Your donation can take just an hour and net you roughly $50. If you donate twice per week, you will have up to $400 per month to help pay down your student loans.

Payment method and time commitment vary considerably based upon demand on your particular blood type. Generally speaking, you will get more if your blood type is O- or is in high demand.

However, it is strongly recommended that you speak with your physician before considering donating – especially if you have a medical condition that may be worsened by suddenly donating blood regularly.

Get Creative With Patreon

Do you have a passion that you love sharing with people? Many people do things ranging from writing short stories to drawing comics and sharing them with people around the world for free.

Patreon, a crowdfunding platform, enables your fans to donate to your art every month. Many artists offer special perks that entice people to donate more; for instance, previews of upcoming pieces.

The platform currently has over 2 million members, contributing an average of $12 per month.

This option is great for those who have already built a fan base and are looking for ways to further their art without having to dive completely behind a paywall. 

Do You Really Need That Streaming Service?

Look at your finances to discover if you can get by without having certain luxury items. For instance, a rising cost many Americans currently deal with is multiple streaming services. Ask yourself what you watch most often and think about cutting the others.

The same goes for everything in your life, be it a gym membership or coffee every morning. By taking the time to carefully weigh your financial decisions, you can improve your quality of life while reducing your overhead – and free up money to pay down your student loans. 

Discover More Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans Today

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