How To Pay Back Your Student Loans: The Ultimate Guide

Need to pay back your student loans? Confused about the best way to do it? Money Under 30 has you covered.

Whether you’re itching to get out of debt right away or hoping to balance loan payment plans with goals like retirement or graduate school, there’s a smart solution available. We’ve compiled resources to help you find a payback plan that works for any situation.

Fed up with your student loans?

Refinancing could save you thousands. See if it’s right for you.

Learn More

This post covers broad student-loan related topics, including forgiveness, consolidation, and other terms you’ll need to know.

Pay your student loans off early

If you have fewer or smaller loans, or if your loans have high interest rates that would cost much more over time, paying student loans back early may be the best option for you. Provided, of course, you can pay them off affordably-which is possible!

  • Is paying back loans ASAP the wisest choice?
  • Learn how to pay loans off quickly (relatively speaking)


Do you have multiple loans? Are they from different lenders? Are you keeping track of different interest rates and loan terms? Your loans may be overwhelming, but here’s the good news-you don’t have to pay everything back at once. Like any big task, break this one down into small, manageable pieces.

  • Figure out which loans to pay back first.
  • Find the best way to organize multiple student loans.
  • Understand what grace periods, deferment, and forbearance really mean.

Know your options

Maybe you’re trying to select the right payment plan. Or you’d like to lower your interest rate if possible, but you don’t know how. Once you’ve taken stock of what you have to repay and which loans are a priority, investigate your repayment options with the posts below.

  • Check out our definitive guide to different payment plans.
  • Follow these tips to reduce overall cost the smartest way.
  • Discover how to get a lower interest rate.
  • Stafford Loan holders, don’t miss this post about Stafford Loan repayment.

Think long term

Are you making life changes, either now or in the near future? These could include a job transition, a move, a large purchase (like a house or a car), an unexpected expense (such as an illness), a plan to start a family, or other events. Learn how you can factor your student loans into the bigger picture.

  • Balance emergency savings and student loan repayment.
  • Factor in retirement account contributions versus paying down debt-can you do both?
  • Consider extending the term of your loan repayment plan.
  • Include student loans in your overall budget while taking steps to financial stability.

Consolidate your student loans

Federally guaranteed student loans (such as Stafford and PLUS loans) can often be paid off more quickly if you consolidate. If you have multiple federal loans with different interest rates, consider consolidation. Depending on your circumstances, it may save you money and time.

  • Read our handy guide to student loan consolidation.
  • Learn when consolidation is worth it for student debt.
  • Take steps towards loan consolidation and see if you qualify.

Refinance your student loans

Refinancing works best for private loans (non-federal loans). Consider refinancing if you have a good credit history and stable employment, as well as multiple private loans.

  • Here’s why and how to refinance a student loan.
  • Find out more about three different programs that offer flexible refinancing options (and savings!)-Credible, Earnest, and SoFi.

Consider your cosigners

It’s common for a parent or guardian to cosign a student loan, especially for an undergraduate education. While the security of a cosigner helps to get the loan, you’ll want to take steps towards independence as you pay loans back.

Discover how-and why-to release any cosigners on your student loans.

Pursue a career in public service

Jobs in the nonprofit sector or commitments to volunteer programs may not get you a fat paycheck. They can, however, offer assistance with student loans. Different programs have different policies, but many provide payback plans or even loan forgiveness as incentives.

Investigate ways that volunteer or nonprofit work can help pay down your loan.

Go back to school

Maybe you’re considering another degree to get the career you want. Additional coursework may bring additional debt, but it doesn’t have to. Learn how to afford graduate school while still paying off your loans.

  • Is graduate school worth the debt?
  • Learn what to consider before attending a graduate program.
  • Explore smart ways to pay for graduate coursework.

No matter which repayment plan you choose, think smart and don’t fall for common myths about student loans. We’re here for you if you have any questions!