Paying for College / Debt Relief, Life & Career

Unique Ways to Pay Back Your Student Loans

As with any tough problem or challenge, creative thinking can help you find a solution – or several of them – to help you more easily manage the situation. We searched for ideas to get you thinking about how you can more quickly pay off your student loans. You’re smart, and can figure out which strategies match your skills and situation to help you make your student loans vanish more quickly than if you did nothing but make your minimum payments.

First, let’s break it down. There are three basic ways you can pay down your loans more quickly. You can enlist outside help in making your payments. Or, you can either cut your expenses or boost your income to free up more money to put toward paying down your loans more quickly.

Enlisting Help

There are several ways you can get other organizations or communities to help pay back your educational costs.

  • Find communities in need of your profession/degree and take advantage of student loan repayment incentives they offer. Look for student loan repayment assistance or student loan forgiveness programs for these occupations in your state.
  • Be willing to take jobs that employers find difficult to fill and keep filled; these employers may offer student loan forgiveness. An August 13, 2019 post shared some helpful links to learn more about these jobs and programs.

Some companies offer student loan repayment assistance as a competitive benefit to help with recruitment. Check with your HR department to see if similar benefits are available. The opportunities available for those working in your field are constantly changing, so research what’s available to you and consider the possibilities. It may be worth it to you to make a commitment to a company, organization, or location for a certain amount of time to get your loans paid down. Be realistic, though, and do your research before making commitments!

Cutting Expenses

You’ve heard of a budget and other smart financial moves you can make? If so you’ve already considered the usual suggestions of moving back home for a while, cutting out Starbucks runs, and taking a lunch rather than eating out. Great start – but there are other things you can do!

Get creative: What jobs can you work where some of your expenses are covered? What utilities can you do without? Can you get by without a car (and the insurance, gas, and maintenance costs that go along with it)? Can you get by with just one streaming service and no cable?

Boosting Income

Taking on a second (or third job) gives you more money to put toward student loan payments – and less time to miss the streaming services you’ve cut to reduce your expenses.

But before you add other jobs and sources of income, you could do one simple thing like use a spare change automated savings app, such as one of the apps suggested in this Forbes article. These round up apps help you save money by putting the extra pennies leftover on all your purchases toward an account or payment you’ve designated. This way, you have a forced savings or payment plan that’s not very noticeable. For most people, using this alone won’t put your loans in your rear view mirror fast enough.

So then, what does a second (or third) job or source of income look like? Here are a few ideas.

  • Sell stuff you don’t need or use (online, in a resale shop, or yard sale) or become a sales rep of cosmetics or nutritional products, for example
  • Participate in medical research and/or clinical trials, focus groups, and online surveys
  • Participate in mock jury trials; learn more in this article about online mock jury sites
  • Make and sell products and services you can provide (e.g., give piano lessons, take photos, sell handiwork like arts, crafts, knitting, or sewing)
  • Work as a tutor or translator, or provide freelance services for other skills you have
  • House sit or pet sit, or provide child care or dog walking services
  • Be a personal attendant overnight; this sometimes includes free housing
  • Start a blog and monetize your traffic
  • Teach a class
  • Be a driver, run errands for people, or make deliveries

The list goes on. As you explore these options, keep in mind that when you’re looking for ways to make extra money, you become a magnet for scammers. Just beware and do your research as you evaluate your opportunities.

Nelnet Bank does not provide legal, investment, tax, or financial advice. This page and the information contained herein is for informational purposes only. This content is not meant to address the circumstances of any particular individual. Nothing contained in this article constitutes a recommendation or endorsement by Nelnet Bank. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consult with a qualified professional.

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