Are student loans driving you into debt? Find out how Alexis from FITnancial paid off her loans the day she graduated and use her tips to become debt-free.
With over $1.56 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt and the average monthly student loan payment amounting to $393, I knew I had to do my best to lower my student loans and pay them off when I could. I did not want to be paying off student loans for the next 20 years.
Before I applied to college years ago, I had little to no idea how financial aid and student loans worked. All I knew was that it was common for people to graduate with tens of thousands in student loan debt. And knowing that little fact made me start a journey of learning as much as possible about money.
Here are the 5 things I did to pay off $15,000 in student loan debt the day I graduated.
1. Side hustles
A huge reason I was able to pay off student loans quickly was because of side hustles.
When I was in college, I had numerous side hustles and part-time jobs. I was a Rover dog walker, babysitter and nanny, virtual assistant, freelance writer, caregiver for the special needs, a teacher’s assistant for the special education room at a high school, and even a behavioral therapist for children with autism. I even started a blog for fun. I didn’t do all of these jobs at once, but I juggled 3 at a time on top of school.
Crazy enough, one of my side hustles turned into my full-time job and in my senior year of college, I made over $80,000.
I made enough money during college that I was able to save up to pay off my student loan debt, traded in my unreliable car for a new one, and I even started donating monthly to my favorite charities. Not to mention that I got a dog while I was in college, which ended up costing thousands of dollars in medical bills, but I was able to pay it off without creating any debt. This is why I love side hustles.
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2. Paid off accruing interest
While I was in college, I paid off any accruing interest that was growing while I was in school. This is such an easy way to keep student loans down to the absolute minimum once you graduate.
If I were to let the accruing interest grow, my loans would even be bigger because of capitalized interest. The interest would be added to my current principal, making me owe even more on top of the loans I originally took out. This might not seem like a big deal, but paying off interest while in school can potentially save thousands.
3. Community college
Before I enrolled in a university, I took almost all of the general education courses at a community college. With the average course costing $93 per credit hour, I was able to take 3 classes for under $1,000.
Compare this to the average credit rate of $600, I saved a lot of money.
I went to a local community college in St. Louis that had both in-person and online courses. I took as many online courses as possible so I could work more and spend less time and money on transportation to and from school.
4. Paid out of pocket
Since community college was so affordable, I was able to pay out of pocket for most of the general education courses.
If I hadn’t paid out of pocket for community college, my student loan debt would be well into the $20,000’s.
5. Lived off-campus
The average cost of living on campus is roughly $1,500 a month. I was a little older when I started college, so the idea of living on campus didn’t sound like a great time. Fortunately, this decision ended up saving me a lot of money.
Living off-campus in a rented room nearby cost me $500. I found the room on Craigslist and groceries were included in the cost because the family got a dog. In exchange for helping them with the dog, I got free meals. I lived with a single mom for 3 and we’re still friends to this day.
I often get asked why I didn’t invest the money instead of paying off my student loans in full. I believe everyone’s on their own personal finance journey and for me, I hated having debt hanging over my head.
Student loan debt doesn’t need to linger around for decades. You have the power and ability to pay off your student loans in a fraction of the time. All it takes is some preplanning and motivation to get out of debt.
Bio: Alexis Schroeder is the owner of FITnancials, a blog dedicated to serving women who want to achieve financial freedom and grow their online business. With budgeting and side hustles, Alexis paid off over $40,000 of debt and made $80,000 her senior year of college.
You can follow Alexis on social media here:
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