How do I Pay off Student Loans?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Student loans can make paying for college easier. In fact, student loans can make higher education possible for people who would not otherwise be able to afford it. Eventually, however, the time comes to pay off student loans. If you have student loans you need to repay, you may extend your payments over a long period of time in order to make repayment easier. If you have the money to pay off student loans faster, however, or even with a lump-sum payment, you may choose to do so in order to get out of debt sooner.

A student loan application form.
A student loan application form.

Once you're no longer enrolled in college, not including normal school breaks, you will typically be required to start repaying your student loans. The amount of time you have in order to pay off student loans may depend on the type of loans you took as well as the terms of the loan agreements. Some student loans allow for extended repayment plans that last for up to 30 years. In most cases, the longer you take to pay off your loans, the lower each installment payment will be. In many cases, however, extended repayment may translate into more total interest paid over time.

Getting a degree that helps land a good job after graduation makes it easier to pay off student loans.
Getting a degree that helps land a good job after graduation makes it easier to pay off student loans.

If you have the money to pay off student loans faster or as a lump-sum payment, you may benefit by doing so. First, the total amount you pay may be less, as you won’t have to worry about paying interest over many years. Second, your freedom from student loan debt may clear the way for you to do other things with your money. If you want to make larger payments, it makes sense to contact your lender and figure out the scenario that may benefit you most. Your lender can give you a total payoff amount in case you want to make a lump-sum payment or help you determine how much you would benefit by making larger payments.

You may want to pay off students loans but face a challenge that makes doing so difficult. For example, you might have a hard time finding a job after college or face some type of financial hardship. Likewise, you could become ill or decide to participate in a volunteering opportunity instead of beginning your career right away. Most student loan lenders have deferment and forbearance programs for which you can apply to delay paying off your loans. It's important to apply for one of these programs, however; if you simply stop paying, you will usually be considered in default on your loan.

Another option for repaying student loan debt is getting an organization to pay your loans off for you. For example, there are some programs that pay off student loans for those who teach in low-income-area schools. There are even some volunteer programs that offer such benefits.

Repayment on student loans generally begins shortly after graduation.
Repayment on student loans generally begins shortly after graduation.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


@Ana1234 - Unfortunately, sometimes there's just no way around them. It's easy to point out that degrees no longer guarantee a job, but if you don't have one, you're going to be up against a whole bunch of people who do and I know which person is going to get hired if one has a degree and the other doesn't.

Student loans can make it easier for people who would otherwise have no chance to go to college. They suck, but they are a necessary evil in some cases. And it's not impossible to pay them off.


@clintflint - Yeah, if you don't have a realistic plan to pay off your student loans as early as possible, then I would question why you're getting them in the first place. A university degree is no longer the same ticket to a job that it used to be. And once you've got all that debt you might be paying it off for the rest of your life.

You might even end up paying it after your death! I read an article the other day about a woman whose son died soon after he got his degree, and because she had cosigned his loan, she was saddled with it on top of her grief.

It was horrible and I couldn't help but think that that probably happens fairly often and we just don't hear about it. Student loans are definitely not something that you want to take lightly.


If you can find a way to pay off your student loans quickly, I would do it. I would do it as soon as possible. They really do wear on you, even if you don't realize it. I didn't realize how much stress I felt from having a large student loan until I managed to get it under control. Even then, it was still scary.

If something happened and I wasn't able to work I would have been in trouble. I feel terrible for people who can't get a job after college because the interest just keeps piling on.

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