There’s no way around it: Student loans suck.
And sometimes they’re so massive, paying them back can be completely overwhelming.
Even if you’re bringing in decent income — and especially when you’re not — it can feel like you’re throwing money into outer space without ever making a dent in the seemingly insurmountable number.
That’s kind of how Douglas Hicks felt after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado — and $50,000 in student loans.
Though he had a good job, he had the same dream many of us do: to buy a house.
He wanted to reduce his student loan payments so he could afford a mortgage, but felt hindered by the giant number.
That is, until he stumbled across a website for people just like him.
With its support, he’ll finish paying off his loans sooner than anticipated, not only allowing him to buy a house, but also saving him more than $9,600 in the end.
Keep reading to find out about what kicked him into gear…
Where These Grads Found Motivation… and Hope
When Hicks decided he wanted to buy a house, he started looking into refinancing his student loans.
During his search, he came across a website called Student Loan Hero.
The site prides itself on its wealth of free information — from tutorials to calculators — all available to help you wade through the muck and monotony of paying back your student loans.
“It’s kind of a support group for me,” Hicks explains. “They send you a weekly email with stories of different people and how they paid off their student loans. It’s a way to keep me focused on the long-term goal of paying off my loans earlier.”
Without Student Loan Hero, he thinks he “probably would’ve lost focus.”
“I’d have found something else to put my extra savings money towards, as opposed to student loans,” he explains.
“It’s kind of a weekly reminder to keep up the fight.”
Julie Fulesday has a similar story: She had about $55,000 in loans after getting her MBA at the University of Pittsburgh.
“These loans, they’re [equal to] a mortgage payment; they’re two car payments,” she says. “It was killing me that I was paying such heavy interest. I was always looking to shorten that process, and to save some money.”
So, like Hicks, she was delighted when she found Student Loan Hero.
“It provides hope,” she says. “I think when you find a community undergoing some of the same experiences you are, you realize you’re not the only one.”
With the help of the site’s tools and guides, she plans to pay off her loans four or five years early. She especially likes reading about the “couples who have found such creative ways to save and be frugal” because “there’s always something that gives you ideas.”
Her savings: $10,000 – $12,000.
As for what she’ll do with the money, Fulesday says: “I would envision there may be a baby in the house by that time.”
“I hear children can cost a lot,” she adds with a laugh. “But I can tell you that the month I don’t have to pay student loan debt, regardless of what we’re doing in our lives, there will be a big celebration of some sort.”
Could Student Loan Hero Save You Thousands?
If you’re in the same boat as Hicks or Fulesday, refinancing your student loans could end up saving you a significant amount of money.
Exactly how much depends on the lender you choose, as well as a number of other factors like your loan profile, career, income and credit score.
“Student Loan Hero gave me a list of different consolidation plus refinancing options,” Hicks explains. “It was a good way to do a side-by-side comparison without having to go to 100 different websites… It saved me a ton of time over researching individual companies one at a time.”
“I thought it gave you a pretty objective point of view from what’s out there in terms of consolidating and refinancing,” he says.
Not only did it save Hicks time, but as mentioned above, refinancing his loans also is going to to save him thousands of dollars.
If you’d like to learn about your options, check out this list of six banks to refinance and consolidate student loans.
Your Turn: How do you stay motivated to pay your student loans?
Sponsorship Disclosure: A huge thanks to Student Loan Hero 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!