How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast in 2018

how to pay off student loans fast

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Graduating from college is often a scary time for young adults. Not only is, what is often referred to as, “the best 4 years of your life” over, you are expected to obtain a job and start providing for yourself.

As of the most recent 2018 statistics, 7 out of 10 graduates are tasked with paying off student loan debt. And the the average graduate is working to pay off just under $30,000.

If you are anything like most graduates, you are likely looking to pay off your student loans as quickly as possible. We created this guide to help you learn how to pay off student loans fast so you can get your life back.

Below, you will find the top 12 strategies for paying off student loans fast. Further down, we present some creative ways to make and save money to help with paying down student loan debt, as well as some more information about student loans, in general.

12 Best Ways to Pay Off Student Loans Fast

Paying off your student loans early may seem like a daunting task. There are many secrets to repaying student loans, however, lots of people don’t know about them. The following sections will explain some of the best tips for repaying your student loans quickly and will go over various ways you may be able to save money.

1) Pay More than the Minimum

Another great way to save money is to pay more than your minimum payment. If possible, doing this will reduce your loan’s principal, causing less interest to accrue. Because interest is calculated based on how much of your balance is left, the more you take off of it, the less the amount of interest that will accumulate.

You should take additional money you earn throughout the year and apply it to your loans. For example, if you get a year-end bonus at work for $1,000, take that additional money and put it toward your loan. This will expedite repayment and you will be done with your student loans for good much sooner.

2) Refinance Your Student Loans

Refinancing your student loans is just like refinancing your car or home. You turn in your old loans for a new one with a new, hopefully lower, interest rate. This also is a good way to pay off student loans faster. Only private lenders offer refinancing, as of now, but you can refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans.

Like obtaining a private student loan, refinancing your student debt is based on creditworthiness. The better you and your cosigner’s credit, if applicable, are the determining factor for eligibility and interest rates. By refinancing to a lower interest rate, you can reduce the cost of interest. Reducing the cost of interest will allow borrowers to pay off the principal balance faster. You can also choose a shorter repayment term if you are trying to figure out how to pay off student loans fast.

For more information on the best way to refinance student loans, explore the tabbed content below:

  • Top Lenders
  • How to Qualify
  • Benefits



Rates (APR)



sofi student loan refinance

2.795% - 6.740%

5, 7, 10, 15, 20


2.79% - 6.74%

5 - 20


LendKey logo

2.67% - 7.26%

5, 7, 10, 15, 20


elfi pay off

2.39% - 6.69%

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2.78% - 8.24%

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3) Make Payments Every 2 Weeks

This one is simple and guaranteed to expedite your repayment and save you money, if you can do it. 

All you have to do is take your monthly payment and divide it in 2. Then, pay this new amount every 2 weeks instead of only making 1 payment a month. 

How does this help?

Well, there are 52 weeks in a year. If you are making a payment every other week, then you end up making 26 payments - or 13 full monthly payments.

Each year you end up making an entire extra monthly payment, which can lead of to big savings.

4) Pay Off High Interest Loans First

If you have multiple student loans, it is always smart to pay off those with the highest interest rate first because these loans will have the most amount of money capitalizing. Though all loans typically have a minimum payments, any extra money you can put towards student loans should go to those with the highest interest.

5) Take Advantage of Interest Rate Reductions

Another simple way to save money is by taking advantage of interest rate reductions. The most common reduction is by signing up for auto-pay. In this scenario, your servicer will automatically take out your payment from your bank account. In-turn, borrowers are usually given an interest rate reduction of 0.25%. Other interest rate reductions vary lender by lender. Check out your lender’s website to see if you could be leaving money on the table.

6) Create a Budget & Track Spending

Arguably the most important step with anything involving money is to create and follow a budget. Following a budget is of critical importance for individuals looking to pay off college debt on a fast timeframe. Creating a budget will allow you to have a better insight on how much money you have to put towards essentials, entertainment, and your debt. Furthermore, creating a budget will allow you to determine which of the various student loan repayment plans and benefits may be the best for you.

When creating a budget, you should first take out the absolutely necessary expenses such as housing, food, and medically related things. After that, you should then prioritize paying off your debt. Only after all of that has been accounted for, you should budget out money for entertainment and luxuries. For an even faster pay off, considered temporarily cutting out more luxuries.

7) Work for an Employer that Offer Student Loan Repayment Assistance

Employer student loan repayment assistance is growing in popularity as far as benefits go. In short, employers who offer the enticing benefit will pay a certain amount of money towards employees' student debt each month. The amounts vary but typically employers offer around $100 - $300 a month.

By working for a company that offers this benefit, you can not only receive help paying down your debt, you can also pay it down much faster. If you can afford it, try to still make the minimum monthly payment yourself, then use the employer assistance to help pay down the balance. 

Using this benefit, along with making payments yourself, could cut the amount of time it takes to repay your debt in half, or more, and can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loans.

8) Avoid Extending Your Repayment Term

There are many federal student loan repayment programs that allow you to extend your repayment term. These include graduated repayment plans, extended repayment plans, income-driven repayment plans, and more. 

Though these can help in times of financial hardship, in general, it is best to avoid these plans if possible. By extending your repayment term, you will pay down your loans less quickly and you will end up paying more in interest over the life of your loan. 

9) Take Advantage of Tax Deductions

Did you know that the IRS allows you to deduct up to $2,500 of student loan interest from your taxes?

​It true! 

If you attended an eligible higher education institution (which is most colleges and universities in the U.S.), then you can deduct ​up to $2,500 from your Adjusted Gross Income, which ends up reducing the amount in taxes you have to pay.

It should be noted that those who make over $80,000 are not eligible for this deduction. Additionally, those who make over $65,000, but less than $80,000, will only be able to deduct a portion​ of the max of $2,500.

10) Use Cash Windfalls for Extra Payments

A cash windfall is essentially when you receive a large sum of money at one time, typically unexpectedly. This could be a bonus at work, an inheritance, lottery winnings, money from a legal settlement, or many other things.

If you are lucky enough to receive a cash windfall, you would be wise to put at least some of that money towards your student debt. While it may be tempting to go on a shopping spree or to buy that new car you've always wanted, you will likely be happy with your decision once you see your student loan balance plummet.

11) Utilize Student Loan Forgiveness

One of the other main benefits of federal loans is that you are eligible for forgiveness. In short, forgiveness excuses you from making any more student loan payments and you are not responsible for your student loans once granted forgiveness.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, kind of.

There are various eligibility requirements and only a select group of individuals can have their loans paid off by the government. We will go over the various programs below. But first, it should be noted that most people do not qualify for these programs, and you will still have to make payments for a long time before receiving forgiveness.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) - This program forgives you for your loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments while working for an employer for at least 30 hours per week. Eligible employers include a government organization (including the military) and nonprofit organizations. Eligible loans include any Direct Loan. FFEL and Federal Perkins Loans are not eligible for PSLF.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness - Teachers working at full-time at a low-income school for 5 years are eligible to have as much as $17,500 of their student loans forgiven. Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans are eligible but PLUS educational loans and Federal Perkins Loans are not. Perkins educational loans may be discharged through the Perkins Loan Cancellation program, however,

Other reasons for forgiveness - Other times in which student loans may be forgiven include in borrower disability or death, bankruptcy, school closing, false loan certification by the school or by identity theft. However, these options are fairly raw and should not be a core component of your pay off strategy.

12) Join the Military

If you enter into the military with some student loan debt, you may be able to pay it off using the GI Bill or another form of relief, such as military student loan forgiveness. Typically, you will need to commit to a certain number of years in the active military and, in turn, they will help pay down your debt.

There are a few different programs, each with varying amounts of assistance, so be sure to do your research before signing up.

8 Unique Ways to Make & Save Money to Pay Down Student Loan Debt

If you have student debt and you are looking for ways to pay it off faster, you may be struggling to figure out how to minimize it quickly. While you may have a job, you probably do not have a lot of extra cash to send to the government to pay your loans down.

Have you thought of some odd ways to pay for your student loans? If you haven’t, we will go over some non-conventional ways to help you minimize your student loan debt today and finish repayment as fast as possible.

Sell Your Plasma

If you have never heard of selling your plasma, you are in for a treat. A number of medical clinics allow you to come in on a regular basis to sell it. They will take blood from your body and then single out the plasma. You are paid for it every time you go. You can make some additional money on the side, sometimes up to $50 or more per donation.

Have a Yard Sale

If you want to knock off a chunk of your student debt, you could hold a yard sale. You can ask for some donations or go around picking up unwanted items from other people. You may not make a fortune, but you can easily make a couple hundred bucks one weekend.

Live With Your Parents

If you are independent, living with your parents could be a difficult way to pay off your student loans, but why not. Whether you are 22 or 32, living at home can help you save a bunch of money and you will be able to put it towards paying off your student loans.

Cut Back on Meat

When it comes time to grocery shop, you will find that leaving meat out of your cart and in the meat cooler results in less money you have to shell out. You can cut back on some of your favorite foods and opt-in for ramen noodles for a few months while you pay down your loan debt.

Toss the Cable

In some big city areas, you can save up to $100 per month by not having cable and internet. Of course, you may think that you cannot live without them, but you can. Simply read more books and use the local café’s Wi-Fi when you need to connect to the internet.

Open a Service Company

While your dream may not be to open your own company, you can earn a decent income by starting a service-oriented business such as a landscaping company or a cleaning business. The money you earn can be placed toward your student loan debt and once it is paid off, you can venture out and do your own thing.

Work as an Entertainer

There are many positions you can hold in the entertainment business from being a comedian to working as a clown and entertaining kids. You will be able to pay money towards your college loan debt while having fun at the same time.

Join a Clinical Study

If you have never participated in a clinical study before, now is the time. You can make some extra money on the side by allowing medical researchers to study you after you take a medication or try out a product for them. Sometimes, the studies pay quite a bit of money and you can make a couple hundred bucks each time.

How to Hustle and Pay Off Your Student Loan Debt Early

Many students hustle hard to pay off their student loans because they do not want it looming over their head and who blames them? Student loan debt can be with you for a while, unless you pay it off relatively quickly.

The Standard repayment plan is set at 10 years, so unless you plan to hustle, you can expect to spend 10 years making consistent payments to your student loan servicer.

Start the Realization Process

Before you can hustle to pay off your student loans, you need to know how much you owe. If you can only guesstimate your debt, then you need to gather your paperwork, make some calls, and start finding out the real numbers.

It is not uncommon for grad students to graduate with a hefty amount of debt, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands. While you pop your eyeballs back into place, try not to panic too much. There are ways that you can manage your debt, but be prepared to make some sacrifices.

If you do owe a hefty amount in debt, you will find that you may be paying a lot per month, sometimes as much as $1,000 or more. If you do not make much money throughout the month, this could be half your payment.

One of the first things you should do when your monthly amount is too high is call your loan servicer. You may be able to extend your payment plan or apply for another repayment plan based on the amount of money you make. These plans will help bring your payment down a bit but will not help you pay off your debt more quickly.

Don’t Give Up

One thing you MUST remember is not to give up on paying your loans quickly, as long as it is financially feasible, and to never feel discouraged. While it may be disheartening looking at the bill each month, remember you are working toward a goal.

Once you begin to see your progress, you will be motivated to keep it up. This is also where the additional payments come into play as you will notice the loan balance decreasing much more quickly.

You must keep a positive attitude because, after all, you did want to go to college and get the degree you got, so only you can blame yourself for the debt you are in. If you ever find yourself in a position where you cannot afford your loan debt, speak with your loan servicer as there are other options to help you.

Keep in mind that the more you sacrifice now and put toward your loan, the sooner you will be free from the clutches of debt. That means, you should apply bonuses, tax returns, and additional money you make directly to the loan. One of the benefits of doing so is that you can choose which loan you want the extra money to go to, therefore, you will be able to pay off one or two of your smaller loans quicker and then tackle the larger one.

Student loan debt can be frustrating at times, but the more you work, the more you hustle, and the more you sacrifice will help you get to the end result quicker.

How to Decide Which Student Loans to Pay Off First

You just found out that you have to start paying back your student loans. The first statement comes in and you have five different loans on the statement, each one requiring a payment and each one holding a different balance. What do you do? Which one do you pay off first? Should you pay off one student loan faster than the others?

It can be quite confusing for students when they realize that their student loan debt is not just one loan, but a series of different loans. It is important that you create a plan and stick with it. If you find yourself constantly changing the plan or changing which loans you want to pay down first, you will never get anywhere, so you need to find what works for you and keep it that way.

If you haven't yet decided to consolidate or refinance your student loans, then follow these tips to make sure you save as much money as you can and finish repayment as fast as possible!

Okay, let’s take a look at some tips on how to decide which loans to pay off first.

Focus on High Interest Rate Loans First

You want to focus on high interest rate loans FIRST when it comes to paying off your student loan debt. More specifically, you should focus on high interest private student loans and then high interest federal student loans.

Even if your balance is smaller on these loans, you will end up paying more simply because of the higher interest rate. The faster you pay these down, the less you have to worry about them. Once they are paid off, you can pay off your other loans and even put more money towards them because you are already used to paying the higher price.

If you do have high interest loans, refinancing is an option as well. In fact, you may be able to work with a private lender to refinance all of your high interest loans. This way, you will reduce the interest rate, the amount you pay monthly, and the amount you spend over time. This is a great option for those trying to figure out how to pay off their student loans faster than the Standard 10-year plan calls for.

Next Focus on Private Loans

If you have a private student loan out through a lender other than the federal government, it is important that you pay it off next after your high interest loans. The main reason behind this is because you do not have as much flexibility when it comes to your private student loans.

For example, a private student loan will not usually offer a payment plan should you run into financial issues. This means that you will still be responsible for the amount due and can face negative consequences.

Finally Focus on Federal Loans

Now that you have paid off your high interest loans and private student loans, you can focus on your loans through the federal government. The good thing about these loans is that they do offer you quote a bit of flexibility. If you ever find yourself in a position where you cannot pay, you can apply for deferments, forbearance, and even an income-based repayment plan - just remember that these plans do not allow for faster repayment if that is your goal.

If your federal loans are the only ones left you have to pay, make sure that you try to send in more than the minimum amount monthly if possible. For instance, if you paid $350 on your private student loans monthly, but only have to pay $175 on your federal student loans monthly, send in the $350 anyways because you are already used to paying it AND you will pay down your loan much more quickly.

You do have the option to refinance your federal student loans to receive a lower interest rate, but, if you need the benefits that come from the federal student loan, do not refinance, as you do lose them. 

Create a Plan That Works for You

It is now time for you to sit down and create a plan that works for YOU. Only you know what your highest interest rate loan is and how much money you have to work with each month. You should create a solid pan that will leave you with enough cash to purchase your necessities and pay for your utilities because, after all, if you leave these out then you may find yourself homeless.

The best plans are the ones that are specific and detailed. What we mean by this is that you should always account for errors and have a plan in place in case something does not go right throughout the month. The more prepared you are, the more likely you can overcome problems along the way.

Final Thoughts on Which Student Loans to Pay Off First

Always pay off your high interest loans, then your private loans, then your federal student loans. Just remember, do NOT miss any payments and NEVER default on any of your loans. Do not skip payments on a federal loan just because you have other high interest loans. Instead make the minimum payments on all loans and put any additional money towards the high interest loans. 

Understanding Your Student Loans

There are two types of debt borrowers can use - private and federal. About 90% outstanding debt is considered to be federal, which you can qualify for by filling out the FAFSA. Sometimes, however, federal aid is not enough and borrowers must turn to private financing to help afford tuition, textbooks, and room & board. The following table highlights the primary differences:

repaying student loans after graduation

Regardless of the type of debt, it is important to know how you are going to pay it back - especially if you hope to pay it back faster than the standard plan calls for (10 years typically). Unlike other types of consumer obligations, college debt must be paid back. In the following sections we will go over federal and private student loans more in-depth.

Paying Off Federal Student Loans Early

As mentioned above, the majority of education financing is backed by the federal government. There are a variety of different types of loans that the government offers based on the individual. There are four main types that we will go over below:

Direct Subsidized - Government pays the accrued interest for while the student is still in school.

Direct Unsubsidized- The borrower is responsible for paying the accrued interest over the life of the loan.

Direct PLUS - Graduate students or parents of students in college to help pay for their education. Credit worthiness is considered in the approval process.

Federal Perkins - Low-interest financing made to students with considerable financial need.

Student Loan Servicing Companies

Servicers are the organizations who handle the collections of payments and any issues that may arise. Your servicer can help you with changing repayment plans, consolidation, and anything else regarding your debt. Though you cannot choose your servicer, it is vital to get to know them and work with them whenever you are having issues. If you are looking for the best ways to pay off student loans fast, then you should talk to your servicer to ask how you can do this. 

There are 10 companies that service federal educational debts. In order to determine who your servicer is, visit the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid site here

Before graduation, it is important to contact your student loan servicer if you need to change your name, address, or phone number, graduate or drop below half-time enrollment, transfer to a new school, or drop out of school.

After graduation, it is important to contact your servicer if you change your name, address, or phone number, have questions regarding your balance, need help making payments, want to explore your options regarding different payment plans, or want to pay off your student loans quickly.

Though many people run into issues with their servicers and some despise them, it is absolutely crucial that you work closely with them. They are your main source of support and the only one who can make changes to your plan if tough times arise.

Department of Education Benefits

Federal financial aid comes with many benefits - many of which aren’t available to those who borrow from a private company. In the following sections, we will go over these benefits and explain who they may help you.

Different Repayment Plans

There are a variety of different repayment plans for those who have federal student debt obligations. Each differ slightly and it is important to understand these differences to decide which is best for you. Some will help you pay off student loans fast while others will extend repayment.

Standard Repayment Plan - This plan is eligible for those with any federal student loan. Payment amounts are fixed and can be repaid up to 10 years. You will pay the least over the life of your loan as compared to other loans. This is the shortest term length you can choose and your best bet if you want to pay off your student loans as fast as possible.

Graduated Repayment Plan - This plan is eligible for those with any federal student loan. Payments are lower in the beginning of repayment and increase every two years. Because of this, you will pay more over the life of the term and will not pay off your student loans more quickly than the standard plan.

Extended Repayment Plan - This plan is eligible for those with over $30,000 in outstanding Direct Loans or FFEL Program loans, those with PLUS loans, and any Consolidation Loans. Payments under this plan can be fixed or graduated and the term can be up to 25 years. You will pay more over the life of the term as compared to the Standard Plan and, of course, you will not be able to pay off your student loans faster. 

Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR) - This plan is for anyone with a high debt-to-income ratio with federal student loans. Under the IBR, your monthly payments will be capped at 10-15 percent of your income after the necessities are taken out. Repayment balances are calculated each year and differ based on your financial situation (such as having children or getting married). You will also pay more with this plan as compared to the Standard Plan. If you are looking to pay off student debt fast, income-based repayment is not a good option.

There are a few other, less popular plans that you can read about here. If you are doing well with your Standard Repayment Plan, it is most likely smart to stick with it. As you can see, most of the other plans are for those with financial hardship and end up resulting in paying more over the life of the loan with smaller monthly payments. This means you will not be able to pay off your students loans faster than if you stick to the Standard plan.

How to Get Consolidation

The Department of Education allows borrowers to consolidate. If you have multiple federal loans, you can turn them in for one new Direct Consolidation Loan. The main reason for doing this is that it is much more manageable to pay off student loans, as you now only have one loan to worry about.

Consolidation is allowed for those who have graduated, dropped below half time, or those who have dropped out of college. The new interest rate is determined by a weighted average and rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percent - meaning you cannot save through federal consolidation like you can through refinancing.

When consolidating, you have the choice to extend your repayment term as well. This makes the monthly payments more manageable but results in a higher total amount that you will spend over the life of your loan. This is not something you want to do if you'd like to pay off your student loans quickly.

Before choosing to consolidate, it is important to calculate how much more money will you be spending on your student loans and if it is worth it for you financially. Federal consolidation will not help you pay off student loans faster due to the fact that there isn't an interest rate saving and often goes hand-in-hand with extending repayment.

How to Get Deferment and Forbearance

Deferment and Forbearance are the last two benefits of federal student loans that we will go over. Each are slightly different but may help the borrower in times of financial hardship. However, neither of these benefits will help you finish repayment quickly.

Deferment is the process of pushing off payments of both the principal and interest of the debt to a later date. Furthermore, if you have a Federal Perkins Loan, Direct Subsidized Loan, and/or a Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan, the government will pay down your student loan interest during this period. If you have an unsubsidized loan, you are still responsible for paying accrued interest during the period of deferment. 

To be eligible for deferment, you must be attending school at least half-time, be unemployed, be enlisted in the military or are within 13 months of finishing active duty, or be in a state of economic hardship. Those who are unemployed or are in a state of economic hardship can only defer payments for up to 3 years.

If you are not eligible for deferment, your servicer may grant you forbearance. During forbearance, you can stop making monthly payments or pay off less each month for up to a year. During this time, interest accrues on both subsidized and unsubsidized .

You may be offered discretionary forbearance if you face financial hardship or become severely ill. On the other hand, lenders are required to grant you forbearance if you are eligible for mandatory forbearance. To be eligible, you must be a member of the National Guard, are a teacher that doesn’t qualify for forgiveness, are in a medical or dental residency program, or if the total amount you must pay off each month is 20% more than your monthly income.

Deferment and forbearance should only be pursued when you absolutely have to. Before taking one of these routes, it is smart to first consider the different repayment plans discussed earlier. If you enter in deferment or forbearance, you will delay paying off your student loans and it should be avoided if you want to pay them off early. 

​Paying Off Private Student Debt Fast Can Be Harder

As explained earlier, private student loans are offered by private organizations such as lenders, banks, or credit unions. Origination is based on the creditworthiness of the borrowers and, if applicable, their cosigners - which most private lenders require.

Though these financing options typically have higher interest rates than federal loans, those with exceptional credit scores may be able to get lower rates. Rates and repayment terms are all determined by the lender based on your needs and financial standing. If you are stuck with high interest private debt, you will want to pay off these student loans quickly to save money on interest. 

Fixed vs. Variable Interest Rates

One of the biggest ways that private student debt differ from federal aid is that you have the choice between a fixed and variable interest rate. Though there isn’t one that is necessarily better than the other, we will go over the differences. Often times, graduates will be looking to pay off private student loan debt faster than federal student loan debt.

Fixed interest rates stay the same over the entire term length. Because the interest rates do not change, they are seen as more safe and are typically higher than variable rates to start. For this type of contract, the monthly payments will stay the same over the life of the loan.

Variable interest rates change with the market. Most of these rates are based on the London Interbank Offer Rate (LIBOR) index. When the LIBOR increases, so does that interest rate, and vice-versa. Furthermore, as the LIBOR increases or decreases, your monthly payment will also increase or decrease, respectively. If LIBOR decreases so will your total loan cost thus helping you pay off your student debt faster. On the flip side, higher interest rates will make it more difficult to pay off student debt. 

Paying Back Student Loans & Credit

What happens if you just decide to ignore your educational debt? Well, aside from the hundreds of calls you can expect to receive, your credit score will plummet. This will come back to bite you when you go to apply for a personal or business loan, try to purchase a car or house, or go to open up a credit card account.

On the other hand, if you consistently make all of your payments on time, your credit score will increase. Debt from college is seen as a “good” type of debt and, therefore, will benefit you immensely if you pay them off on time each month.

Finally, it should be noted that if you have already had trouble paying off educational debt, resolving any past-due payments will immediately improve your credit. If you messed up in the past, do everything in your power to resolve the back payments and hop on the path to rebuilding your credit.

Student Loan Success Indicator (SLSI) Study & Report

Graduating college is a tremendous accomplishment that students should celebrate and take pride in. However, graduates should make sure not to celebrate for too long because for most, the stresses of college will linger long after receiving a diploma.

The main cause of all this postgraduate stress? Student debt!

According to recent statistics, there are currently around 43.3 million student loan borrowers in the United States. The outstanding student loan debt in the country currently sits at $1.41 trillion. Additionally, the average borrower owes $28,400 in student debt at graduation.

All of these numbers are quite intimidating, and it is alarming to think that many student loan borrowers will be repaying these debts well into their thirties. This can cause many problems for young adults. For example, LendEDU found that 30% of borrowers have delayed marriage because of their student loan debt.

With so many student loan borrowers at a severe disadvantage once they leave campus, it is vital that they make the right choices after graduation. Choosing where to live and start a career can be one of the most impactful choices they make.

The city in which a post-graduate chooses to live after college can have a serious impact on their responsibility to repay student loans. Factors that can play a role include the price of housing, local tax rates, general cost of living, and access to well-paying jobs.

LendEDU licensed Experian's Premier Aggregated Credit StatisticsSM data set, enabling us to tell you where young adults are having the easiest and hardest time repaying student loan debt. After looking at tens of thousands of American cities, LendEDU ranked the 500 places where student borrowers are having the easiest time repaying student debt and the 500 places where borrowers are having the hardest time. To be considered, a city had to have a population greater than 10,000.

To develop a repayment indicator, LendEDU factored in a number of important statistics for each city. The statistics that were evaluated were based on median income wage, number of student loan accounts, number of delinquent accounts, number of defaulted student loan accounts, and the average monthly student loan payment total of the student loan accounts within each city.

With this data, LendEDU was able to develop several indicators defining the impact of student debt on residents as well as their overall success in repayment. These indicators were summed to develop our final score, which represents the level of difficulty each city’s residents have in repaying student loans. A lower total score meant more student loan accounts in successful repayment and a high salary relative to the monthly payments. A more detailed methodology can be found at the bottom of the page.

Below, you will find the 500 places in the United States in which resident student loan borrowers are having the easiest time repaying student loans. To round everything off, we also listed the 500 places in the U.S. in which residents are struggling the most to repay student loans. Below, you can see how we calculated out Final Indicator for student loan success, a.k.a. the Student Loan Success (SLS) Indicator.

Student Loan Success Indicator

500 Places That Have the Easiest Time With Student Loan Repayment

500 Places That Have the Hardest Time With Student Loan Repayment


The data for this report was drawn from Experian’s 2017 Premier Aggregated Credit StatisticsSM listing and the Onboard Informatics dataset as licensed by LendEDU. Each piece of data was relevant to a specific ZIP CodeTM1 location in the United States.

Several pieces of data were used to determine two different indicators. Data used included median Income Insight W2SM score (a valid measurement of wage income according to Experian), the number of student loan accounts in repayment, the number of student loan accounts in delinquency (past due payment by 60 days), the number of student loan accounts in default (past due payment by 90 days), and the average monthly payment made on a student loan account. Population statistics for each ZIP CodeTM was pulled from Onboard Informatics.

For many of the cities in this report, there were multiple relevant ZIPTM codes. In order to ensure accuracy, data from multiple ZIPTM codes within the same city were weighted by population and aggregated together. After all cities and ZIPTM codes were combined, a population cutoff of 10,000 was made; all cities with a lower population were not included in the report.

As mentioned earlier, two indicators were formulated from the listed data; they were dubbed the Student Loan Impact Indicator and the Fail Rate Indicator. These two indicators were used to determine the final Indicator, or Final Score.

The Student Loan Impact Indicator was simply the average monthly payment on a student loan account over median Income Insight W2SM score to in the area. This gave a basic idea of how residents could handle student loan payments that were typical of that area. Lower Student Loan Impact Indicators meant smaller student loan payments relative to estimated wage income. This was considered an indicator that residents would typically be able to handle their payments without trouble.

The Fail Rate Indicator was defined with a formula using the number of student loan accounts in repayment and the accounts in default and delinquency. The ratio of defaulted student loan accounts over the total number of student loan accounts was superimposed with the ratio of delinquent student loans over the total number of opened student loan accounts. Before being added together, the default ratio was weighted by 70 percent and the delinquent ratio was weighted 30 percent. A lower value meant that fewer accounts were in default or delinquency and was taken as an indicator of successful student loan repayment in the area.

Both the Student Loan Impact Indicator as well as the Fail Rate Indicator were aggregated together; the Student Loan Impact Indicator was assigned a weight of 70 percent while the Fail Rate Indicator was given a weight of 30 percent. The Final Indicator, dubbed the Student Loan Success (SLS) Indicator was the end result of calculations. Lower final indicator values meant that residents were better able to handle a typical student loan repayment in the areas and fewer accounts relatively speaking were in delinquency or default. Here is a visual representation of the SLS Indicator:

Student Loan Impact Indicator

1. Experian is a nonexclusive full-service provider licensee of the United States Postal Service. The following trademark is owned by the United States Postal Service: ZIP. The price for Experian's services is not established, controlled or approved by the United States Postal Service. 

​Final Thoughts

Whether you are happy about it or not, you’ve finally graduated - give yourself a pat on the back! You have accomplished something that many people cannot or don’t have to opportunity to do. If you had to take out college debt to help pay your way through college, the time is now to figure out how you’re going to pay them back as fast and efficiently as possible

Make sure you understand your educational debt and your own financial situation, then come up with your personalized plan. There are tons of resources out there for those looking for help with the repayment process and your servicer is always there (maybe after a long wait on the phone) to help make the process as manageable as possible.

Paying off student loans fast is a great idea for those looking to save money and escape the anxiety that comes with thousands of dollars in debt hanging over their heads.​

If you have any questions or need advice regarding your repayment, feel free to contact us here at LendEDU!