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It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re constantly devoting a huge portion of your paycheck to your monthly student loan payments. Tackling your student loan balances may seem like a daunting task, but paying your loans off as quickly as possible is the best way to free yourself from debt.

If you want your debt to disappear, you’re going to have to rethink your student loan repayment strategy.

Here’s how to pay off your student loans and what options are available:

How long will it take me to pay off student loans?

From private student loans through your bank to alternative USAA loans through online lenders, all student loans are unique. It might take Borrower A the same amount of time to pay off $30,000 in student loans as it takes Borrower B to pay off $10,000. It all depends on your loan amount, interest rate, and repayment terms.

Each loan has its own interest rate and set monthly payment amount. If you pay your regular monthly payment amount, you’ll repay the loan at the end of the loan term as agreed. But you could potentially pay the loan off before the repayment term ends by increasing the amount you pay each month and having your loan servicer apply the extra amount toward the principal balance.

The student loan consolidation companies in the table below are Credible’s approved partner lenders. Because they compete for your business through Credible, you can request rates from all of them by filling out a single form. Then, you can compare your available options side-by-side. Requesting rates is free, doesn’t affect your credit score, and your personal information is not shared with our partner lenders unless you see an option you like.

LenderVariable rates from (APR)Fixed rates from (APR)


Credible Rating
Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
4.32%+ 4.4%+
  • Fixed APR: 4.4%+
  • Variable APR: 4.32%+
  • Min. credit score: 690
  • Loan amount: $10,000 to $400,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Military deferment, forbearance
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must have a credit score of at least 720, a minimum income of $60,000, and must be a resident of Texas
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Does not disclose
  • Cosigner release: No
  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $100,000 - $149,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: $200,000 - $400,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Does not disclose


Credible Rating
Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
5.09%+1 5.39%+1
  • Fixed APR: 5.39%+1
  • Variable APR: 5.09%+1
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose
  • Loan amount: $10,000 to $750,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Immediate repayment, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay, loyalty
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have at least $10,000 in student loans
  • Customer service: Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 24 to 36 months
  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $100,000 to $149,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: Less than $150,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Yes


Credible Rating
Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
4.44%+2 4.99%+2
  • Fixed APR: 4.99%+2
  • Variable APR: 4.44%+2
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $300,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 12, 15
  • Repayment options: Military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: All states except for ME
  • Customer service: Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 24 to 36 months
  • Loan servicer: College Ave Servicing LLC
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $100,000 to $149,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: Less than $300,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Yes


Credible Rating
Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
7.41%+5 7.41%+5
  • Fixed APR: 7.41%+5
  • Variable APR: 7.05%+5
  • Min. credit score: 700
  • Loan amount: $7,500 to $200,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Immediate repayment, academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and submit two personal references
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 36 months
  • Loan servicer: Granite State Management & Resources (GSM&R)
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $150,000 to $249,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: $150,000 to $199,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing : Yes


Credible Rating
Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
3.99%+3 4.83%+3
  • Fixed APR: 4.83%+3
  • Variable APR: 3.99%+3
  • Min. credit score: 680
  • Loan amount: $10,000 to $250,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Forbearance
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have at least $15,000 in student loan debt, and have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved school
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: No
  • Loan servicer: Mohela
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $250,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: $250,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Yes


Credible Rating
Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
5.12%+4 5.61%+4
  • Fixed APR: 5.61%+4
  • Variable APR: 5.12%+4
  • Min. credit score: 670
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $250,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Customer service: Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: Yes
  • Max undergraduate loan balance: $250,000
  • Max graduate loan balance: $250,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS refinancing: Yes


Credible Rating
Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
4.38%+ 4.49%+
  • Fixed APR: 4.49%+
  • Variable APR: 4.38%+
  • Min. credit score: 700
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $300,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 15
  • Max. undergraduate Loan Balance: $125,000
  • Time to Fund: 10 to 30 days
  • Repayment options: Immediate repayment, forbearance
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have already graduated with at least an associate degree from an eligible institution
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 12 months
  • Loan servicer: LendKey Technologies Inc.
  • Max. graduate Loan Balance: $175,000
  • Credible Review: LendKey Student Loans review
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: No


Credible Rating
Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
N/A 5.1%+
  • Fixed APR: 5.1%+
  • Variable APR: N/A
  • Min. credit score: 670
  • Loan amount: $10,000 up to the total amount
  • Loan terms (years): 7, 10, 15
  • Repayment options: Military deferment, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have at least $10,000 in student loans
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: No
  • Loan servicer: AES
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: No maximum
  • Max. Gradaute Loan Balance: No maximum
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Yes


Credible Rating
Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
N/A 5.49%+
  • Fixed APR: 5.49%+
  • Variable APR: N/A
  • Min. credit score: 670
  • Loan amount: $7,500 to $300,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 8, 12, 15
  • Repayment options: Does not disclose
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen and have and at least $7,500 in student loans
  • Customer service: Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 12 months
  • Loan servicer: PenFed
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $300,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: $300,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Yes


Credible Rating
Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
N/A 5.29%+
  • Fixed APR: 5.29%+
  • Variable APR: N/A
  • Min. credit score: 680
  • Loan amount: $7,500 to $250,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 10, 15
  • Repayment options: Academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Available in all 50 states; must also have at least $7,500 in student loans and a minimum income of $40,000
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Does not disclose
  • Cosigner release: No
  • Loan servicer: Rhode Island Student Loan Authority
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $150,000 - $249,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: $200,000 - $249,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Yes
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All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2College Ave Disclosures | 5EDvestinU Disclosures | 3 ELFI Disclosures | 4INvestEd Disclosures | 7ISL Education Lending Disclosures

7 ways to pay off student loans

You can use multiple strategies individually or together to help you pay off your loan balance faster. Here are seven to consider:

1. Make additional payments

Your monthly loan payment combines your principal (the money you originally agreed to pay back) with the interest (the cost of borrowing the principal) and any additional fees associated with your loan. Although the interest rate stays the same from month to month, how much interest you accrue is determined by the principal amount.

Paying extra toward your loan principal each month is one of the fastest ways to pay down your student debt. Just make sure your loan servicer applies the extra amount to the principal rather than the total amount you owe.

2. Establish a repayment fund

Not all borrowers have the ability to consistently make additional payments each month. For example, a medical graduate with PhD loans might have more financial uncertainty from month to month than a borrower with a substantially smaller loan balance.

Experiment with automatic transfers to a separate savings account specifically for your college debt. Even transferring $10 per week adds up to an additional $520 per year that you’re automatically devoting to your student loan balance.

Check Out: Best Student Loans for PhD Students

3. Take on a part-time job

Don’t wait until you graduate to start strategizing how to pay off your future student loan balance. Whether you’re accruing interest when you accept your loan or only when you end your schooling, you at least know how much of a principal you’ll owe.

If you’re able to juggle a part-time job while attending college, you can use what you earn and start paying down your balance. Even saving $1,000 each academic year might leave you at graduation with $4,000 that you can immediately pay toward your loan balance.

4. Stick to a budget

Budgeting is your best friend when it comes to managing your money, especially if you’re taking out student loans. Although federal student loan borrowers are required to attend entrance counseling to receive the disbursement, it’s still important to seek out as much advice and planning assistance as possible.

Tip: Understanding your monthly cash flow is the first step to identifying how you can fine-tune your budgeting strategy. When you can see where your money is going each month, you can better identify which sacrifices or lifestyle changes you could make to ensure you’re sticking to a budget that helps you achieve your financial goals.

Keep Reading: What is Entrance Counseling for Student Loans?

5. Apply for loan forgiveness

Paying off thousands of dollars in student loans is difficult for many borrowers. Thankfully,if you have federal student loans, forgiveness programs are available that can eliminate all or part of your student loan debt. But some borrowers and loans may not qualify for any forgiveness.

Each program has unique eligibility requirements and strict approval standards. For example, federal Parent PLUS student loans are difficult to get forgiven. Requirements include but are not limited to: military service, bankruptcy, disability, and death.

These PLUS Loans may also qualify under Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which forgives your remaining balance after you’ve made 120 qualifying monthly payments. In order to qualify, you must be employed by a U.S. federal, state, local or tribal government or not-for-profit organization.

6. Refinance

Refinancing with another lender could also help you pay off student loans by giving you a lower interest rate, shorter repayment term, or both. But think carefully before refinancing federal loans with a private lender. This will cause you to lose access to federal benefits, including income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness.

If refinancing allows you to pay off your loan balance faster while saving money on interest, it might be the right choice. But if your overall financial situation won’t benefit significantly from the refinance, it might be in your best interest to avoid this strategy.

7. Set up autopay

One way to pay off your student loans faster is to lower your interest rate through automatic payments. Many lenders will offer existing borrowers a 0.25% to 0.50% discount if they set up automatic payments.

You can opt to schedule an automatic monthly payment from your checking or savings account. The U.S. Department of Education offers borrowers a 0.25% interest rate deduction on Direct Loans when you set up autopay. Talk to your loan servicer to see if you’d be eligible for a similar discount.

Learn More: Can You Consolidate Private and Federal Student Loans Together?

Pros of paying off student loans early

If you can comfortably pay off your student loans early, you’ll see numerous benefits:

  • Reaching financial goals sooner: The minute your student loan balance hits zero is the minute you can fully focus on your other financial goals. Saving for retirement, buying a home, or affording that bucket-list family vacation takes time; paying off your loans as quickly as possible allows you to help make these other financial goals a reality.
  • Improve debt-to-income ratio: Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio — the amount of your monthly income that goes toward your debt payments — affects everything from your credit score to your ability to secure additional loans. Paying off your student loan balance lowers the amount of debt you have relative to your income, which can then help you qualify for other funding, like taking out a mortgage or applying for new credit cards.
  • Pay less interest: The less time it takes you to repay your loans in full, the less overall interest you’ll pay on them. This could amount to saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars. For example, if you have a $10,000 student loan at a 5% interest rate and 30-year term, your minimum monthly payment would be $54 and your total lifetime cost of the student loan would be $19,326. But if you paid this loan off in 20 years, your total lifetime cost would decrease to $15,839, saving you more than$3,000 in interest.

Cons of paying off student loans early

Paying off your student loans as early as possible may seem like a smart idea, but it’s not right for everyone. Consider some potential cons of paying off student loans early:

If you don’t have an emergency fund: While paying off your student loan debt early is wise, it may not be if you don’t already have an emergency fund on hand or you’re using your emergency fund to pay it off. Generally, having 6-12 months of living expenses in your bank account is considered wise in case of financial difficulties. But if you spend that on student loans, you’ll have to build it back up again.

Draws focus from other forms of debt: If you’re juggling other forms of high-interest debt, paying off your student loans early might not be the best financial decision for your overall debt. It’s best to work on other high-interest debts such as credit cards or personal loans and work to pay those down before tackling your student loans.

About the author
Nick Dauk
Nick Dauk

Nick Dauk is a Credible authority on personal finance. His work has been featured in Business Insider, The Edge, Bisnow, The Telegraph, BBC, and Culture Trip.

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