What would you do to be free of student loan debt?
Would you work two jobs? That’s how 22-year-old Jordan Arnold paid off $23,150 in student loans in just one year after graduation.
Would you find a bizarre side gig? Kat Tretina braided horse manes on the weekends and paid off $30,000 three years early.
Would you live with your parents again? Millennials are returning home in droves to try and pay off record-setting student loan debt, and most of us still aren’t sure how to feel about it.
Would you live in a house this tiny to save $8,000 in college housing costs?
Would you flee the country? These four debt-dodgers did. It’s, er, effective, as long as you never want to return … and don’t mind leaving co-signers on the hook.
Would you join the armed forces? One woman used payment from her last tour of duty to pay off $53,000 in student loan debt.
Are You Paying More Than You Should?
It’s not fun to hear, but it’s also no surprise to learn the extremes some people go to to get out from under student loan debt.
The average student loan debt balance as of 2014 was $15,000, the New York Fed reports.
That means, regardless of what you did to save wisely and pay off your debt in a timely fashion, you likely owe lenders enough money to buy a small SUV.
And the debt grows as we age.
The average balance for borrowers in their 30s (who likely have been out of college for more than a decade) is about $31,000.
The longer you take to pay down your student loan debt, the more interest you’ll pay beyond the actual loan amount.
So, if you don’t want to give up your home — or way of life — to get rid of this debt, what can you do?
How to Pay Off Student Loans Faster
If you did what many of us do after high school, you filled out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, collected the grants and loans you were eligible for and went to college without another thought.
Six months after your last class, you got the first reminder in the mail. You might not have even landed your first job yet.
To complicate things, maybe FAFSA didn’t yield everything you’d hoped.
You needed to find additional college funding via private loans, and now you owe money to a slew of people you dealt with years ago and barely remember.
If you’re struggling to make several payments each month and keep track of a variety of interest rates and debt obligations, refinancing might help you clear the air.
Student loan refinancing combines your loans into one, so you have just one lender, interest rate and monthly payment.
Could You Save Money Refinancing Student Loans?
Along with simplifying the process, refinancing could actually save you money, as well.
Starting fresh on your loans could help you:
- Owe a lower monthly payment, in case you’re struggling to keep up with payments now.
- Get a lower interest rate, which means you’ll pay less over the life of your loan.
That means you could start paying down your debt with one affordable monthly payment. Plus, with a reduced interest rate, you’d save money in the long run!
For example, Jammie Proctor took more than 10 years off of school, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech when he was 36 years old — with over $50,000 in student loans.
He wanted to pay off his house and start investing in his future, but couldn’t move forward with his loans hanging over his head.
Proctor saved between $6,000-$7,500 on his loans refinancing with Credible and will be debt-free in just seven years.
Simply put, refinancing could help you sleep easy — in your own bed.
Find your new rate and options at Credible.com, a marketplace that lets you see personalized rates from multiple refinancing lenders without affecting your credit score or sharing your information with lenders.
Your Turn: What bizarre things have you heard of people doing to pay off student loan debt?
Sponsorship Disclosure: A huge thanks to Credible.com for working with us to bring you this content. It’s rare that we have the opportunity to share something so awesome and get paid for it!
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).