Student Debt Soars: 5 Ways to Pay Off Your Loans Faster

Photo by WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock.com

Student loan debt in the U.S. has reached a new all-time high of $1.4 trillion.

That reflects an increase of more than $833 billion — 149 percent — since 2007, according to a recent analysis by Experian. Student loans constitute the fastest-growing type of debt.

Just about the only good news from Experian’s findings is that late payments have decreased by 10.1 percent since 2009, the year the Great Recession officially ended.

Michele Raneri, Experian’s vice president of analytics, attributes rising student loan balances to the increasing cost of higher education. She continues:

“Even with this number moving upward, the data is showing a decrease of delinquencies, which means that consumers are managing their loan payments better than they have in the past.”

Other findings from Experian’s analysis include:

  • 13.4 percent of U.S. consumers, spanning from the Silent Generation to Generation Z, have at least one student loan on file.
  • The average total student loan balance is $34,144.
  • The average number of student loans per person is 3.7.
  • Consumers with student loans have an average VantageScore credit score that is 25 points lower than the national average of 675. Experian did not address FICO credit scores.

Tackling student loan debt

Perhaps the best way to minimize student loan debt is to do everything you can to reduce the cost of college before taking out loans. Of course, that’s little help to the millions of Americans already collectively carrying that $1.4 trillion in student loan debt.

Still, there is a lot you can do to pay down your share of that debt faster, including the following:

1. Know your loans. A 2016 LendEDU study found that few students know the basics of their own loans. For example, only 7.9 percent of the students surveyed knew their current interest rates, and only 6.1 percent knew their repayment terms. Only about 4 percent knew that student loan refinancing was an option after graduation.

2. Track your finances. Millennial Richard Meadows paid off his student loans by his mid-20s in part by tracking his net worth every month. You could start by simply tracking how much money you earn and spend each month. If you don’t track those basics, you could be spending more than you make without realizing it — no way to fast-track debt repayment.

3. Ask for forgiveness. As Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson details in “Ask Stacy: Can I Have My Student Loans Forgiven?” some folks may be able to have their loans forgiven, discharged or canceled. The options are greater with government loans than private loans.

4. Talk to your employer — or find a new one. A small but growing number of companies help their employees pay off student loans. Fidelity Investments, for example, joined their ranks last year by launching a student loan assistance program that puts $2,000 toward eligible employees’ student loans each year, up to a total of $10,000.

5. Seek professional help. If you feel overwhelmed by debt, consider calling a debt management expert. A reputable expert may be able to help you by lowering your interest rates, finding forgiveness programs and stopping wage garnishment and tax liens.

What’s your take on America’s soaring student loan debt? Sound off below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
What Brand Makes the Best Rechargeable AA Batteries?
What Brand Makes the Best Rechargeable AA Batteries?

The best battery depends on what you need it for and how big your budget is. Here’s how to find the cheapest brand that will do the job you need.

15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home
15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home

These free movie streaming sites offer thousands of movies and TV shows, including recent releases and beloved classics. If you love free movies, online sites are where you need to look for the best list of features that are just one easy click away.

7 Deadly Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50
7 Deadly Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50

Simply avoiding these actions, or lack thereof, can improve the odds of a longer, more healthful life.

9 Products That Will Organize Your Home for Under $45
9 Products That Will Organize Your Home for Under $45

These clever Amazon finds can help transform a messy nest into the pristine home of your dreams.

7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security
7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

To get the most out of your Social Security retirement benefits, you have to think ahead.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable
10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.