How to Pay Off $30,000 in Student Loans
Is $30,000 in student loans a lot? It’s the average balance of recent graduates, but it may feel larger due to interest and other living expenses.
If you are struggling to pay down your student loan debt, it’s easy to feel like you’re all alone. But other borrowers are dealing with the same issues.
If you have $30,000 in student loans, you’re right in line with the typical range. According to The Institute for College Access and Success, the average balance for graduates from the class of 2019 was $28,950.
While it may feel like getting rid of your debt is impossible, there are strategies you can use to pay off your loans faster and save money.
Is $30,000 in Student Loans a Lot?
“Is $30,000 in student loans a lot?” — It’s a common question that student loan borrowers have. While $30,000 is close to the national average, whether or not it’s a substantial amount of debt depends on several factors:
- Interest Rate: Student loan interest rates can range a great deal. Federal student loans can be as low as 3.73%, while some private loans can be as high as 14%. A higher rate will cause more interest to accrue, and your balance can quickly balloon.
- Loan Term: Your loan term affects your total repayment cost and your monthly payment. While a longer term will give you a smaller monthly payment — an appealing option when you’re just starting out — it will cause you to pay much more in interest over time. And, the idea of being in debt for decades can be stressful.
- Income: Your income is the single biggest factor in determining whether your student loan debt is manageable or not. If you are earning a comfortable salary, you can likely afford your payments without too much effort. By contrast, if you’re earning a lower salary, $30,000 in student loans can feel insurmountable.
- Cost of Living: Where you live affects how far your salary goes, and how much your debt impacts your life. If you live in an area with a high cost of living, such as California or New York, your basic expenses — like rent and groceries — will be significantly higher than someone living in an area with a lower cost of living.
- Other Debt: If you have other forms of debt, such as a car loan or personal loan, your student loan balance can be even more burdensome. With so much debt, keeping up with all of your payments can be difficult.
How to Pay Off $30,000 in Student Loans As Quickly as Possible
If you’re sick of your student loans and want to pay them off as fast as you can, you can use these five strategies to accelerate your repayment:
1. Pick a Debt Repayment Strategy
You likely have multiple student loans. Saving for College reported that the typical college graduate will have eight to 12 student loans by the time they leave school. So which should you tackle first? That depends on your mindset.
If you want to pay off your debt as quickly as possible and save the most money, use the debt avalanche method. List all of your accounts, ordering them from the one with the highest interest rate to the one with the lowest.
Continue making the minimum payments on every account, but put any extra money you have each month toward the highest-interest loan. Once that loan is paid off, roll its payment toward the account with the next-highest interest rate, and continue these steps until you’re debt-free.
Because you are paying off the most expensive debt first, less interest will accrue overall, allowing you to save money and eliminate your loans faster.
If you’re worried that you’ll lose motivation during your repayment journey, the debt snowball method may be better for you. With the debt snowball, you list all of your accounts and order them from the one with the smallest balance to the one with the highest balance.
Like the debt avalanche method, you keep making the minimum payments on all of your loans. However, any extra money you have is paid toward the account with the lowest balance rather than the highest interest rate.
You’ll pay more money overall with the debt snowball method than if you followed the debt avalanche approach. But if you have multiple loans, it will allow you to eliminate balances more quickly — that can be a powerful motivator that helps you stay on track.
2. Sign Up for Automatic Payments
Most lenders, including federal loan servicers and private student loan lenders, offer automatic payment discounts. By simply enrolling in autopay, you can reduce your interest rate by 0.25%. That may not sound like a lot, but any reduction in your interest rate will help you pay off your debt faster and save.
3. Skip Your Grace Period
If you’re currently in your loan grace period — the time after you graduate before payments are required — you can cut down on your loan term by making payments now. Even paying a relatively small amount — like $25 or $50 per month — will help reduce the amount of interest that accrues.
4. Pay More Than the Minimum
If you don’t want to be in debt for 10 years or more, you have to pay more than the minimum amount required on your loans. If you don’t have extra cash right now to make extra payments, consider the following options:
- Begin a side hustle: If you have some extra time after work or on your days off, consider starting a side gig to earn money. If you’re willing to drive for a rideshare service, deliver groceries, babysit, or assemble furniture, you can make money in your spare time. If you put your earnings toward your loans, you can pay them off much faster.
- Get a roommate: While sharing your home may not be ideal, getting a roommate can cut your living costs in half, freeing up more money for debt repayment. To find people in your area, check out Roomster or RoomieMatch.
- Rent out your extra space: If you have an unused closet, spare bedroom, or garage, you can make money by renting out that area to people looking for a safe storage space. Depending on the size and location of the available space, you could make hundreds each month on sites like Neighbor or StoreAtMyHouse.
- Use your tax refund: If you receive a tax refund after filing your tax return, put it toward your loans. Since it wasn’t money you were expecting, it won’t hurt your budget, but it can allow you to put hundreds or even thousands as a lump sum payment toward your student loans.
5. Refinance Your Student Loans
If you have high-interest student loans, one of the most effective strategies for managing your debt is student loan refinancing. When you refinance, you may qualify for a much lower interest rate than you have now, and you can adjust your repayment term to meet your needs.
Refinancing loans are offered by private lenders, and they can have variable or fixed interest rates. Right now, rates are very low, so you could qualify for a lower rate and save thousands over the life of your loan.
Through Juno, some lending partners are also offering special incentives, like cash rewards or interest rate reductions. You can check your rate and find the best deal in just three minutes.
Repaying Your Student Loans
If you have $30,000 in student loans, you may be overwhelmed by your debt. However, it’s not a crippling amount of debt; if you’re dedicated and focused on repaying it, you can get rid of it more quickly. Use strategies like the debt avalanche method and student loan refinancing to pay off your debt faster and save money.
Juno can help you find the most affordable possible rates on refinancing student loans. Juno negotiates on behalf of borrowers with partner lenders to help each student qualify for the best refinance rates they can given their financial situation.
Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, FL. She specializes in helping people finance their education and manage debt. Her work has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, MarketWatch, and many other publications.
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