Recently, student loans have been in the news, as rising college costs and inflation have made loan repayment more difficult. The political lines are drawn regarding forgiveness or not, but for now, school loans still need to be repaid. If you owe student loans and are overwhelmed with the prospect of repaying such a large amount of money, we’ve got a few tips to help you pay those loans off more quickly than you expected.

Paying your student loans off quickly will require making more than the minimum payment each month. The more you pay towards your principal balance on the front end, the less interest you will accrue and the more quickly you can settle your debt.

4 Tips for Easier School Loan Repayment

1. Make extra payments: There is no early payment penalty associated with student loans, but there is a right (and wrong) way to make additional payments. If you simply send extra money with your payment, the loan servicer will apply the excess to your next month’s payment – which doesn’t help your cause at all. Be sure to give the loan servicer explicit instructions to use any extra money towards paying down the current principal balance. You can typically do this by phone, email, or written notes in your payment. You should be able to make an additional payment towards the loan balance at any time.  You can significantly cut down your loan repayment term using this method.

2. Refinance if you can: If you have good credit and a steady job, you may want to consider refinancing your student loans, allowing for faster payoff without extra payments. Refinancing replaces several student loans with a single private loan, usually at a lower interest rate. To speed up your loan repayment., settle on a new loan term that’s less than your current loans reflect. Choosing a shorter term is likely to increase your monthly payment but will allow you to repay the debt more rapidly and save a lot of money on interest. Typically, you are eligible for refinancing if you have a credit score in the high 600s, a solid income, and a  debt-to-income ratio below 50%.

3. Enroll in autopay: If refinancing your loans is not an option, signing up for autopay is another possible way to lower your student loan’s interest rate. Both federal student loan servicers and private lenders generally offer a rate discount if you allow them to deduct payments from your bank account automatically. This will result in minimal saving and might not be as impactful as other tips, but every little bit helps when paying off debt.

4. Choose biweekly payments: This is a simple way to pay off debt faster – and it’s a clever trick. Simply make half of your payment every two weeks instead of making one full payment monthly. This strategy will result in you making an extra payment every year, cutting time from your repayment schedule and interest. Budgeting is easy, painless – and effective. 

Check out Nerdwallet’s biweekly student loan payment calculator to see how much time and money you can save.

Here’s a bonus tip that can go a long way towards paying down your student loan debt – commit to using a portion of any extra money you receive towards your student loan principal. For instance, if you receive a bonus at work, or get a birthday check from a family member, use it to make an extra payment. Make this a habit, and you’ll begin to see your balance shrink before your eyes.

Many people ask if they can discharge student loan debt during bankruptcy, but unfortunately, this rarely happens. If you are struggling with student loan debt and think that bankruptcy might help your overall financial situation, call a professional bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.

Richard V. Ellis is a bankruptcy attorney based in Sarasota, Florida.