The Most Effective Tactics for Paying Off Student Debt Faster

Grace Lemire
Grace Lemire

Grace Lemire is a freelance writer and editor with over five years of experience in the personal finance industry. She has been featured on a variety of publications, including NPR, CNN, FinanceBuzz, Dollar Geek, Pangea, and True Finance. Her work focuses on the intersection of personal finance and technology. In 2023, Grace was nominated for the Best Personal Finance Advice award in’s FinTok Awards.

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Daniel Kahn
Daniel Kahn
Daniel is the co-founder and COO at Sparrow. Daniel is responsible for the day-to-day operations of a company, working closely with other members of the executive team to develop and implement strategies to support the growth and success of the company.
Daniel was a 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 lister in the Education category.  Daniel was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated from Duke University in 2020.
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Camden Ford
Camden Ford

Camden leads Sparrow’s business operations – everything from product management to business analytics. After graduating Cum Laude from Duke University where he studied Civil Engineering, Camden worked as a Consultant for A.T. Kearney where he worked in their Strategic Operations practice. With a strong background in analytics, Camden strives to deliver data-driven conclusions and insights.

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November 13, 2023

The longer your loans sit, the more interest accrues. The more interest that accrues, the more your overall debt grows. The more your overall debt grows, the larger your payments. (You see where this is going…) 

Here’s a comprehensive list of things you can do to pay off your student debt faster, helping you save money over time.

Consolidate and Refinance

Refinancing your student loans means replacing your current student loan(s) with a new loan with a lower interest rate. When you refinance more than one student loan, you can also consolidate them into one loan, meaning one monthly payment.

This can look like:

Loan 1: $10,000 at 6% interest rate

Loan 2: $24,000 at 7.25% interest rate

– refinance and consolidate –

New Loan: $34,000 at 3.25% interest rate

Note that the overall loan amount is still the same, however, the interest rate is significantly better and thus, will accrue less interest over time, meaning less money spent.

You should only refinance loans where you can secure a lower interest rate. If you can get a lower interest rate, refinancing can be one of the most effective ways to reduce student debt.

Apply Raises and Bonuses

As you establish yourself professionally within your career, you may receive a raise or bonus. Oftentimes, this extra chunk of change is put towards a physical object like a TV or better car. Putting this money towards your student loans will likely be a better option in the long run. 

Think of it this way: If you’ve been fairly comfortable financially under a $50,000 salary, continue operating under a $50,000 salary even if you get a raise to $60,000. Putting the extra $10,000 a year towards your student loans can make a massive dent in your student debt over time.

Cut Back on Extra Expenses

Take some time to think about where all of your money goes each month. Creating a simple expense tracker in Excel or Google Sheets can be a great way to see this information all in one place. Then, think critically about the necessity of each of these expenses. 

Does coffee 5 times a week make sense and align with my financial goals? Can I cut that back to 2 times a week?

A $3 coffee 5 times a week is $15 a week. If you did this 50 of the 52 weeks in a year, you’d be spending $750 a year on coffee.

Do I need cable TV or can I live comfortably with just Netflix?

The majority of adults living in America pay $51-$100 a month on cable television1. This amounts to $612-$1200 per year. 

Let’s say you did both of these and cut out coffee and cable. You’d save a potential $1,950 per year. If your loan payment was $200/month, this could quite literally take over half a year off your repayment period.

Reminder: If getting coffee 5 times a week brings you immense joy, you don’t have to remove it from your life! Think of what doesn’t bring you joy and try to reduce how much you spend in those areas first. Or, simply adjust your habits to support your financial goals, too. You might love getting coffee 5 times a week, but if changing that to 2 times a week still brings you joy and supports your financial goals, it may be the best option.

Make More Than the Minimum Payment

Take whatever your monthly payment is and add a little bit more to it. Even if you can only afford an extra $20-$30 a month, it all adds up over time.

A tip for doing this without even thinking? Set up your bank account for an automatic transfer to savings that aligns with when you get paid. Then, every time your paycheck hits your bank account, this extra bit will be taken out as if it was never there. (Out of sight, out of mind, right?)

Utilize a Chunk of Cash

This won’t be accessible to everyone, but occasionally we get a cash windfall from picking up a side hustle, a refund, or a generous gift. You may be tempted to spend it on the pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing or a vacation with your friends, but putting it towards your student loans could help keep you on the fast track to financial freedom.

A fairly common example of a cash windfall is our yearly tax refund. While this amount varies for everyone, this can be a great chunk of change to throw down on your student loans. Fact of the matter is, it might not be money you were relying on or factoring into your monthly budget as it’s challenging to know just how much you’ll be getting in tax returns. This makes it a prime bit of money to direct right to your student debt.

Pick Up a Side Hustle

The amount of money you generate from a side hustle will vary depending on what side hustle you pick up and how much time you’re able to put towards it.

This can be anything from:

  1. Selling old clothes on sites like Poshmark, Curtsy, Mercari, and Facebook Marketplace
  2. Dog walking
  3. Babysitting
  4. Working for InstaCart or DoorDash


  1. Starting a side business on Etsy
  2. Starting a seasonal landscaping business
  3. Flipping furniture

USA Today found that the average side hustle generated between $507 and $746 per month3. This is massive when thinking about student loan payments. Being able to throw an additional $750 a month towards your student loans will make a great impact over time.

Make Payments Every 2 Weeks

Interest on student loans accrues daily. So, by the time you get around to your monthly payment, your loan has already accrued quite a bit of interest.

Making your payments biweekly instead of monthly can help you get ahead of the interest. Simply divide your monthly payment in half, and then pay that amount twice per month.


While you may not be able to do all of the strategies we listed above, at least 1 should apply to you. Even throwing 1 strategy into the mix can help you pay off your student debt faster.

If you feel ready to refinance your student debt, we’re here to help.

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