How to Pay Off $100K in Student Loans

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Paying off $100,000 of student loan debt may feel overwhelming, but you have a ton of options. If I can pay off 100k of student loans, anyone can.

The greatest approach to eliminate student debt is to pay more each month than the minimum. The greater amount of money you put toward your loan, the less interest you’ll owe and the faster the balance will go away.

To figure out how quickly you could pay off 100k student loans and how much money you’d save in interest, use a student loan payoff calculator. Already done that? Here are seven ideas for getting rid of educational debt even faster.

How to Pay Off $100K in Student Loans Fast

Do you want to be a student loan success story like me? Learn the secrets of paying off your student loan debt fast so you can become debt-free.

1. Make extra payments the right way

There is no penalty for paying off student loans early or more than the required amount. However, there’s a catch with prepayment: Student loan servicers may apply the excess payment to the next month’s payment.

Advances your due date, but it won’t help you pay off student loans faster. Instead, tell them to apply any overpayments to your current balance and keep the following month’s commitment.

You can make another payment at any time throughout the month, or you may pay off your student loan in full on the due date. Either option might save you a lot of money.

Let’s assume you owe $10,000 with a 4.5 percent interest rate. If you were on a 10-year repayment schedule and paid an additional $100 every month, you’d be debt-free more than five years ahead of schedule if you had paid the normal monthly payment.

Saving an extra $100 each month for loan repayment is easier than you think.

2. Refinance if you have good credit and a steady job

Refinancing your student loans may help you pay off those loans faster while without having to pay extra.

To lower your costs, refinancing replaces several student loans with a single private loan at a cheaper interest rate. Choose a new loan term that is less than the remaining amount on your existing debts to speed up repayment.

If you opt for a shorter period, your monthly payment may go up. However, it will help you pay off your debt faster while also saving money on interest.

For example, refinancing $50,000 from a rate of 8.5 percent to a rate of 4.5 percent may allow you to pay off your student debt in under two years rather than the normal three years. It will also save you roughly $13,000 in interest over the life of the loan even if payments remain unchanged.

If you have a credit score of at least 700, a good income, and a debt-to-income ratio of less than 50 percent, you’re a prime candidate for refinancing. If you want or need features like income-driven repayment or Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you shouldn’t refinance federal student loans.

If you are ready to lower your interest rate and decrease your monthly payment our top recommendation for student loan refinancing and consolidation is SoFi.

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Related: 5 Key Benefits of Refinancing Student Loans

3. Enroll in autopay

Signing up for autopay is another option to reduce your student loan’s interest rate if you don’t want to refinance your student loans.

If you let your bank account be automatically debited, you may qualify for a quarter-point interest rate reduction from student loan servicers. Many private student loan lenders also provide for automatic bank payment deductions.

If you can borrow $10,000 at 4.5% interest and pay it back in five years, with no penalties for paying early or late, your interest savings will be minimal — about $144 over a 10-year repayment plan. But that’s still more money to put toward student debt repayment.

Contact your servicer to enroll or to see whether an autopay discount is available.

4. Make biweekly payments

The technique of making a payment every two weeks instead of one full payment monthly is a deceptive method to motivate yourself to pay more on debt. Pay half of your money each two weeks rather than one complete payment monthly.

You’ll wind up paying an extra payment each year, which will save you time on your repayment schedule and money on interest charges.

To discover how much time and money you may save, use a biweekly student loan payment calculator.

5. Pay off capitalized interest

If your loans are subsidized by the federal government, interest will accumulate while you are in school, and your grace period and periods of deferment and forbearance will begin once more.

The more interest you pay, the greater your loan expands and the more interest you’ll pay. When payments begin, your balance increases, and you’ll be charged interest on a larger amount.

To avoid capitalization, consider making monthly interest payments while it accrues.

Or make a lump-sum interest payment before your grace period or postponement ends. That won’t immediately speed up the payoff process, but it will mean a smaller balance to get rid of.

6. Stick to the standard repayment plan

Unless you opt out, the government sets a ten-year repayment schedule for federal student loans. The quickest approach to pay off federal student loans is to stick with the standard plan.

Federal loans come with various income-driven repayment options, which may extend the payback period to 20 or 25 years. You can also combine student loans and consolidate them, extending the payback period to a maximum of 30 years if your balance is zero.

If you don’t truly require these alternatives and can afford to stay on the standard plan, it will lead to a faster path to becoming debt-free.

7. Use ‘found’ money

If you obtain a raise, a student loan refinance bonus, or another financial windfall, set aside at least a portion of it for your debt. Consider using this breakdown: 50% of the extra income could be directed toward debt repayment, 30% to savings, and 20% to fun, discretionary spending.

Some businesses provide student debt repayment as a perk for their staff. Check to see whether your firm has an employee student loan forgiveness program and sign up if you haven’t already.

You may also establish side hustles to help you pay off student loans faster. For example, you can trade your unused gift cards; rent out your spare room, parking space, or car; or offer your talents as a freelancer or consultant on the side.

It’s important to make yourself a set of rules, such as finding ways to save $200 or even saving $1000 a month so you can put it towards your student loans. Some money-saving apps, like Digit and Qapital, can also help you create savings objectives and regulations.

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Related: How to Pay Off $50,000 in Student Loans

How I Paid Off $100,000 in Student Loans

Those are the tried and tested tips straight from the personal finance experts.

But do you want to know my story on paying off $100,000 in student loans? If so, keep on reading.

In 2015 I was fresh out of my MBA program and fresh in $154K of debt.

I’ve been on my debt free journey for a year now I’m paying it off by living a minimalist lifestyle and listening to Dave Ramsey on the daily. I realized I would never be able to live the life I wanted with debt hanging over my head, so I decided to pay it off and document my story.

I don’t want to spend my time kicking myself for taking on the debt, but instead learning from my mistakes and planning a brighter future because of it. I’m living small and chipping away one paycheck at a time. I hope you enjoy my story!

A Lifetime of Debt

My debt story began at 16 when I got my first credit card in the mail and maxed it out the same day at the mall. That habit stayed with me and peaked during my post college life. I was misusing credit worse than ever.

I moved to Washington, DC and experienced a whole new type of spending. I was the definition of “keeping up with the Joneses,” and $200 on a night out was a regular occurrence. By the time I was 23 I had managed to rack up $17K worth of credit card debt.

I remember the day I added up the balances on all of my cards. I realized I wouldn’t be able to make even the minimum payments on half of them with my upcoming paycheck. I spent the next year aggressively paying off debt, but the cycle continued.

Every time I would pay off a card my brain told me that I was responsible enough to use it and I would run it right back up again.

Around 24 I hit a rut in my career and jumped at the chance to get my MBA. I had a ton of debt, but I was young and impulsive so off I went to sign my name to $90K more. As a part-time student I wasn’t eligible for any grants or aid through the school so I knew I would have to reach for the stars during my job search to pay back my debt. It was a huge risk but I was young and stupid and decided to go for it.

After I graduated I was lucky to land a six figure salary in banking. The job was in a much cheaper city so I took it as sign to make a plan to pay off my debt. I don’t remember the exact time I was introduced to Dave Ramsey, but after I moved I read the Total Money Makeover and started formulating a budget.

My first step was to add up all of my debts and assets to get a clear picture of where I stood. I stared at the numbers almost bursting into tears. I had $14K worth of credit card debt and $140K in student loan debt. Oh yeah, I had also never started saving for retirement so my only asset was my car, a 2005 Honda. I was 27 years old and -$154K in the hole.

Around the same time I started following the Dave Ramsey plan, I found minimalism. I fell in love with the lifestyle. I’ve always been interested in the concept of living with less but I never really got it because I’m a born and raised spender.

Minimalism changed the way I view myself and material possessions. I realized that living with less can be very freeing. I’m still working on completely downsizing, but I’m worlds away from where I was in my early twenties, financially and mentally.

For a while, I doubted my choice to use Dave Ramsey’s method because the finish line seemed so unattainable. My family and friends kept telling me to just put my extra money in the stock market and not worry about paying it off because everyone had debt. I created a few scenarios in excel and showed the outcomes of paying off the debt ASAP versus paying it off over 10 years and investing what was left over.

I realized that I wouldn’t be happy until the debt was gone. I knew that I would feel trapped in every job I had for the next decade because I had a $1,500 monthly payment to worry about. I would never be able to quit and start my own business or even save for a house.

I decided that Dave was right. His plan was my ticket to freedom and I didn’t care what everyone else thought was right. I got myself into this mess and I was going to get myself out.

My Escape Route

I used my signing bonus to fund an emergency fund with $1,000 and knocked out baby step one. In the first five months of my journey, I paid off the $14K in credit card debt by adhering to a strict budget and eating my weight in beans and rice.

I also refinanced my student loans with a private lender to get a better interest rate. I had a short period where I faltered and took on more debt (I know, I know!). We all make mistakes! The debt was for my Invisalign treatment and I’m now close to paying it off.

student debt


I’ve significantly downsized my lifestyle in order to free up as much as possible to go towards debt. I went from living in a luxury one bedroom apartment for $1,800 a month to a $600 a month studio.

I’ve given up a dishwasher, microwave, washer/dryer, air conditioning, and a new car, all in the name of paying off debt. I no longer get my nails done. I wait eight weeks in between haircuts instead of six, and go to Super Cuts instead of the salon. I’ve eaten more tuna sandwiches than I can count and peanut butter has become one of my main food groups.

When people ask me to go out for drinks/dancing, I always agree but sip a club soda for free. Those are a few of the things I’ve lost chasing freedom but the things I’ve gained have changed my life in ways I never expected.

I’ve gained a sense of control over a part of my life that for years made me feel powerless.

I’ve realized that if I want something I CAN get it. Most importantly, I’ve learned that the only thing standing in my way is myself.

I’m 28 years old, digging myself out of 12 years of financial mishaps, and vowing to never go back because I don’t want to die with heaps of unpaid debt left for my family. I hope you’ll share your story and follow along with mine at brokeasb.com.

About the author

Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs is a personal finance expert, and the founder of My Millennial Guide, a personal finance site helping you put more money in your pocket. He helps millennials follow the smart money in order to increase their earning potential and start building wealth for the future. He regularly writes about side hustles, investing, and general personal finance topics aimed to help anyone earn more, pay off debt, and reach financial freedom. He has been quoted as a top personal finance blogger in major publications including Yahoo! Finance, NASDAQ, Discover, MSN Money and more.
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