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If you racked up $30,000 in student loan debt, you’re right in line with typical numbers: the average student loan balance per borrower is $33,654. Compared to others who have six-figures worth of debt, that loan balance isn’t too bad. However, your student loans can still be a significant burden.

Here’s how to pay off $30,000 in student loans:

  1. Make extra payments
  2. Refinance your debt
  3. Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan
  4. Pursue loan forgiveness

1. Make extra payments

If at all possible, try making extra payments toward your student loan debt. To get started, use this chart to estimate what your minimum payment would be.

Loan balanceMonthly paymentTotal repaid
$15,000$156$18,681
$20,000$208$24,908
$25,000$259$31,135
$30,000$311$37,362
$35,000$363$43,589
Numbers are based on a 10-year repayment term and a 4.53% interest rate — the current interest rate for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans.

Making additional payments can help decrease the interest that accrues, so you’ll save money over time. If you’re short on cash, you don’t have to come up with huge sums to make a difference. Small amounts applied to your loan balance consistently can pay off over time.

For example, if you had $35,000 in student loans, your monthly payment would be $363. If you upped your payment by just $20 per month — paying $383 toward your loans — you’d pay $42,999 over the length of your loan. Paying a little extra each month would help you save nearly $600, and you’d pay off your loan over a month earlier.

Use the student loan repayment calculator to find out how making extra payments affects the total you’ll pay.

2. Refinance your debt

If you want to pay off your student loans as aggressively as possible, consider refinancing your debt. With this option, you take out a loan from a student loan refinance lender and use it pay off your existing debt.

If you have good credit, you could qualify for a lower interest rate. With a lower rate, more of your monthly payment goes toward the principal instead of the interest that accrues, so you may save money and pay off your debt sooner.

For example, if you had $30,000 in student loans at 7% interest and a 10-year loan term, your monthly payment would be $348. Over the life of your loan, you’d repay a total of $41,799; interest charges would cause your balance to grow by over $11,000.

But let’s say you refinanced your loans and qualified for a 10-year loan at 5% interest. Your monthly payment would drop to $318, but you’d repay just $38,184 during your loan term. Taking the time to submit an application for student loan refinancing would allow you to save over $3,600.

Credible allows you to compare rates from all of the student loan refinancing lenders below by filling out a single form. Comparing rates is completely free and doesn’t affect your credit score.

LenderFixed rates from (APR)Variable rates from (APR)Min. loan amount
advantage education loan consolidation4.54%+N/A$7,500
brazos student loan refinancing3.91%+4.01%+$10,000
citizens bank student loans3.45%+¹ 2.29%+¹$10,000
(depending on degree type)
college ave student loans3.54%+22.62%+2$5,000
(depending on degree type)
edvestinu student loan consolidation4.93%+54.64%+5$7,500
elfi student loans3.14%+32.39%+3$15,000
mefa refinancing3.95%+4.08%+$10,000
penfed purefy student loan consolidation3.48%+2.42%+$7,500
rhode island student loan authority refinancing3.49%+N/A$7,500
(depending on degree type)
sofi refinancing3.46%+42.31%+4$5,000
Ready to see how much you can save?

Get Rates

All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 1Citizens Bank Disclosures | 2College Ave Disclosures | 3 ELFI Disclosures | 4SoFi Disclosures | 5EDvestinU Disclosures


Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of November 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.80%. Variable interest rates range from 2.15%-8.82% (2.15%-8.82% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower's loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 3.45%-9.02% (3.45%-9.02% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.

3. Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan

If your student loan balance exceeds your income, or if you simply can’t afford your monthly payments, consider applying for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. The Department of Education offers four different plans:

  • Income-Based Repayment
  • Income-Contingent Repayment
  • Pay As You Earn
  • Repay As You Earn

With these plans, the loan servicer extends your repayment term from 10 years to 20 or 25 years. The servicer will also set your monthly payment at a percentage of your discretionary income. Some people qualify for payments as low as $5. An IDR plan is a great way to reduce your monthly payments so you have more breathing room in your budget.

You can apply for an IDR plan online.

4. Pursue loan forgiveness

If you have $30,000 in student loans, you may have chosen a career as a teacher or in public service. If that’s the case, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness through one of two programs:

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

With Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), you can qualify for loan forgiveness if you work for a non-profit organization or government agency while making payments on your loans. If you work for a qualifying employer for 10 years and make 120 monthly payments, the government will forgive your remaining loan balance, tax-free.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

If you teach full-time for at least five consecutive years, you can get up to $17,500 of your loans forgiven through Teacher Loan Forgiveness.

To be eligible you must:

  • Have federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans
  • Have been employed as a full-time teacher for five full and consecutive years
  • Teach at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that works with low-income students
  • Have taken out the loans before you finished the required years of teaching

To apply for Teacher Loan Forgiveness, fill out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness application and send it to your loan servicer.

Paying off your student loans

Now that you know how to pay off $30,000 in student loans, you can come up with an action plan that works for you.

If you decide to refinance your education debt to accelerate your repayment, check out the best student loan refinance companies.

Find out if refinancing is right for you

  • Compare actual rates, not ballpark estimates – Unlock rates from multiple lenders with no impact on your credit score
  • Won’t impact credit score – Checking rates on Credible takes about 2 minutes and won’t impact your credit score
  • Data privacy – We don’t sell your information, so you won’t get calls or emails from multiple lenders

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About the author
Kat Tretina
Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is an authority on student loans and a contributor to Credible. Her work has appeared in publications like the Huffington Post, Money Magazine, MarketWatch, Business Insider, and more.

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