23+ Creative (& Unique) Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans

Looking for creative ways to pay off your student loans?

Raise your hand if you have ever asked yourself this question…”How in the heck am I going to pay off my student loans?”

Now, put your hand back down if you really raised it. The quick answer to your question is to make extra money each month so you can make extra student loan payments.

The real question we should probably be asking ourselves is, “How do I pay off my student loans FAST?!?”

There are plenty of options out there when it comes to paying off your student loans… you can:

  1. Refinance your student loans,
  2. Consolidate student loans
  3. Pay them off faster than scheduled
  4. Pay minimums, or
  5. Even act like you don't have them..!

However, that being said it is not always easy. Student loans can be super tricky in addition to needing the one key ingredient to expediting student loan repayment:

More Money to make extra payments!

So if you're looking for some creative, perhaps even somewhat bizarre, ways to pay off your student loans, look no further than this list below!

Creative Ways to Pay Off Student Loans

Use the table of contents to help you navigate to each section.

1. Tuition Reimbursement Programs

One of the simplest ways to quickly pay off your student loan debt is to take advantage of tuition reimbursement programs and jobs.

When looking for jobs, find ones that offer tuition reimbursement when making your final choice. Sometimes less pay with tuition reimbursement is actually more pay in the long run, crunch the numbers.

When crunching the numbers, factor your net pay, not the base salary, and make sure to read the fine print when it comes to the contractual agreements for tuition reimbursement.

Look into public service forgiveness if you are a teacher, nurse, or public service worker in a low-income area. However, be aware of the current PSLF program as many candidates are denied each year.

If your current job offers reimbursement, it is essentially free money. On a side note, if your current company does not consider asking if they would be willing to. Believe it or not, with such a demand for talent in the workplace, if you are good at what you do consider asking for tuition reimbursement.

See also, 20 Student Loan Facts for 2020

2. Round-Up Payments with Apps

With automation set to take over the world, why not let it take over payments for your student loans?

In addition to automatically having your student loan payments withdrawn each paycheck, consider using apps like Qoins to help expedite your student loan payoff.

The Qoins app allows you to set it up so that after each purchase, whether it is gas or groceries, rounds up to the nearest dollar. The difference is then applied to your target financial area, in this case, student loans.

Learn how it works here.

3. Pay Extra Every Month (Always)

Maybe not the most creative, but one of the most effective ways to pay off student loans is to just pay extra each month towards the principal.

Figure out the desired amount to pay and each time you get your paycheck if you don't like using automatic apps, manually pay the desired amount towards a targeted student loan.

When paying extra each month, make sure the payment is targeted at a specific student loan – don't spray your income. The simplest way is to focus on the smallest student loan and then work your way up the ladder, see #4 below to help you!

4. Use this Student Loan Pay Off Guide:

The sheer truth to that matter is that most people will never have to pay off six figures in student loans, let alone multiple six figures.

For my wife and I, we were faced with a unique situation when we got married… close to $300,000 in student loans. However, over the last four years we have successfully paid off over $200,000 in student loans.

We got creative to pay off student loans, we got gritty, and we failed a lot! Enough to know what works for most and what doesn't which is why we created a Student Loan Pay Off eBook.

Get a copy of the guide that teaches you step by step how to map out a student loan repayment plan and strategies that you can custom tailor to your liking:

What's inside the student loan eBook?

This eBook will teach you how to use both traditional debt payoff strategies and even more advanced ones including:

  1. Debt Snowball – Line up student loan debt from least to greatest, attack the smallest balance before moving on to the next
  2. Debt Avalanche – Line up student loan debt from highest interest rate to least, attacking the loan with extra payments that have the highest interest rate first
  3. Cash Windfall – read more in detail about cash windfalls and check out #9 below.
  4. Cash Flow Index – Determine the “Efficiency” of your loans by using the cash flow index formula. Divide the loan principal by the monthly payments – a score of 100 or up is efficient, below 50 is not. Pay the inefficient loans first.
  5. Use Lines of Credit – see # below!

5. BYOB When You Go Out!

Pocket flask… Check.

Free mixer… Check.

Do as you please, but the world of $5 beers and $8 shots is just too much when you have student loans.

Entertainment drains most millennial's budgets as it is. Using a flask and getting really good at BYOB can help you save immensely every time you go out on the town!

If you want to go out frequently AND you want to pay off their student loans, well you need to have a solution. BYOB is that solution… something has to give.

Next time you hit the town have a few before you go out and bring your pocket flask! Always drink responsibly, you have student loans to pay off.

Other Ideas: Saving money on food and beverages can fatten your wallet pretty quick! Consider buying off brand alcohol, avoiding booze all together, or trying to eat less meat!

6. Use a HELOC to Pay Off Student Loans

Equity is an asset.

However, it is a dormant asset unless it is leveraged, which in most cases means selling a home. So if you have intentions of staying in your first home for some time, consider using a HELOC to pay off student loans.

This is seldom talked about or even used concept, that can really make a dent in student loan principals.

Leveraging equity is not as “risky” as it sounds and it is a great solution for people who are both homeowners but also have significant amounts of student loans. Factors involved include positive net cash flow and equity. To see if you would qualify, use this link.

7. Rent a Room Out

If using a HELOC to pay off student loans isn't in your new future, but you already own a home or have a spare bedroom, rent a room to pay off student loans.

One of the quickest ways to pay off your student loans and to make an extra $5,000 per year is to simply rent a room. While finding the ideal roommate might take some time, ultimately if you decide to go this route consider using the income to pay off student loans.

Just imagine what an extra $500-600 per month in addition to your student loan minimum payment would do to your student loan balance.

8. Sell Your Car

Car manufacturers know college graduates getting their first job are several weeks (or months) away from getting their first significant paycheck.

Knowing this, the marketing powers that be encourage new graduates to get the brand new car they “deserve.” However, besides the fact that brand new cars are depreciating liabilities, they mess up your debt to income ratio and hurt cash flow.

So if you bought a car after college, consider downgrading for the time being. Sell your flashy car and drive something affordable and within reason. Use the net profit and the extra cash freed up each month by getting a lower payment to attack your student loans.

An extra $100 per month saved on a car payment is $1,200 annual that can go towards student loans.

9. Use Your Tax Refund aka Cash Windfall

One of the simplest ways to pay off student loans fast is to use a cash windfall approach.

In most cases, a cash windfall comes in the form of an annual tax return. Inheritances, gifts, wedding presents are also forms of cash windfall options, but tax returns are most applicable.

Instead of saving or even worse, spending your tax return, use it towards your student loans. Pretend you never got a tax return and take 100% of the tax return and throw it at a specific student loan principal.

Related, How to use your tax refund wisely.

10. Keep Your Loans Federal

Keep your loans federal, meaning don't refinance with private lenders.

Taking your student loans that are federally managed by on of the main Federal Student Loan Service Companies and refinancing with a private lender means you will lose out on all perks which may include:

  • Income based repayment
  • Public service forgiveness
  • Forbearance
  • Deferment

It's best to keep your loans federally managed and if you decide to refinance, be sure to use #11 below and only refinance a portion of your loans!

11. Refinance a Portion of Student Loans

Got multiple student loans? Is one, in particular, killing you but you don't want to take all of your student loans into the world of privately backed student loans?

Consider refinancing one student loan and avoid consolidating all of your student loans so you can be purposeful with your cash flow. Read my full review of refinancing with Penfed Student Loans.

Just make sure when you consider refinancing your student loans that you still have a payoff plan and you are aware of the pros and cons of federal vs private student loans.

12. Boot-strap a Side Hustle

There is no better time to start a side hustle than when you're in need of some extra cash to pay off your student loan debt.

Countless people have made money in creative ways in order to help them pay off their student loans. Personally, I have started online marketing companies to supplement income.

Options include:

  • Starting a blog
  • Freelancing
  • Tutoring
  • Starting your own company
  • Drop-shipping
  • Using social media

13. Become a Fecal Donor

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Not kidding.

In fact, my wife (who is in the medical field) said she has had patients who have had fecal transplants. In some states, you can mail your poop and get paid for it. It is actually used to help people with severe conditions that require fecal transplants… yeah I will leave it at that.

To see if you can mail your poop in for money start here.

14. Bartend or Cater

Need some quick cash? Consider bartending or working as a caterer on the weekends.

Uber was a great option for quick cash, but the wear and tear on a person's car is not worth the money people are starting to figure out. However, working as a bartender or caterer is a great way to meet people and make some serious side cash.

With tips, some bartenders and caterers walk away with an extra $300+ on the weekends. Just make sure to use the cash towards student loans and not other stuff!

15. Dog Walker or Dog Sitter

Paying off student loans means having more money to do so. What is a better way to make money then to walk some dogs?

While some people make a full time living out of walking dogs, see if you have a neighbor or two who need you to walk their dog before or after work. Charge $10 for a 10-minute walk, which is a deal for them and you.

An extra $200 per month to walk someone's dog for them can go a long way when it comes to helping you pay off your student loans. If you don't want to ask a neighbor, become a dog walker with Rover.

16. Tutor Kids

Tutor kids for side money. Earn anywhere from $14-22 per house with VIPKid which is a web-based English tutoring program for kids in foreign countries.

The cool thing about tutoring online is you can do it before or after work and it is flexible around your schedule. Just tutoring 5 hours a week can result in $100's of dollars per month to pay off student loans.

And… you are helping educate the world :)!

17. Avoid Income-Based Repayment Plans

If you don't know what an income-based repayment plan is then just disregarded this. Why would avoid income-based repayment plans (IBR) be considered a creative way to pay off student loans?

Well, that is because IBR plans do not put most people in a position to actually pay off their student loans. They are actually designed so that individuals can afford their student loan payments.

What most don't realize is that the majority of their payments are going towards interest and may not even be scratching the principal student loan debt amount. Tread lightly when using IBR programs and review #3 above if you are using income-based repayment plans.

18. Room Share

This is different than #6. Room share refers to renting a room from someone else or splitting rent with a friend.

While having an apartment to yourself with granite counters might seem tempting, it is also an inflated way of living that really is not helping your student loan problem. Instead of paying $1200-1800 per month in rent, consider renting a room or basement.

Just by cutting your housing expense by a 1/3 can provide the income to pay off your student loans quicker. Over the long haul, you will then be able to improve your DTI ratio and look into home ownership quicker.

19. Donate Your Blood Plasma

At $30 a pop and up to ten donations a month, donating your blood plasma is a great way to earn some extra money to help you with your student loan payments.

If you donate regularly, you can make up to $3,000 per year donating blood plasma. The plasma is actually used for producing medical products to help those with blood clotting issues.

Not only are you making some money in the process, you're also helping others. Use this guide to help you learn how to donate blood plasma.

20. Get a Part-Time Job

If you haven't caught on to the general theme of this article – most of the “Creative Ways to Pay Off Student Loans” are simply creative ways to make more money, to thus pay extra towards your student loan debt.

And perhaps one of the quickest ways to earn extra income is to simply pick up a part time job which can include:

  1. Fitness Instructor
  2. Dog Walker
  3. Food Delivery
  4. Real-estate
  5. Cater
  6. Freelance

It's important to note that many of the above-menionted part-time jobs are not traditional in the sense you clock in and clock out. Many of the best part-time jobs in 2020 are flexible and active!

21. Move to A Rural Location

While some cities like Charlotte, NC, Pittsburg, Pa and Denver, Co are growing like crazy – there are countless cities around the country that are declining in population.

Brain drain, the phoneme where college-educated students move from small towns to big cities for more opportunities is hitting small cities around the country.

To help incentivize college-educated talent to move to these small towns, some rural locations offer student loan repayment help in exchange for moving to that location. These places are called rural opportunity zones.

Here is a quick list of programs/cities offering student loan assistance:

  1. Niagra Falls Program (Pays up to almost $7,000 in reimbursement)
  2. New York Young Farmers
  3. Kansas Rural Opportunity Zones

22. Mock Juries – they'll pay you!

Lawyers and law students need mock juries to help them practice their skills and see if their arugments are valid.

This is a fun and creative way to make money to pay off your student loan debt. While the pay varies from as low as $10 all the way to $100, getting paid to watch court (when we do it for free on our coach after work) isn't a bad idea!

Visit websites such as eJury or Sign Up Direct or simply Google “mock jury duty” in your area.

23. Adjust Your Social Life

Wait, adjusting your social life to pay off student loans is creative?

Yes, it is 100% unique and creative – because it's something most young adults are simply unwilling to do. For most millennials and beyond, they struggle at times to separate themselves socially in order to accomplish personal goals.

Speaking from experience, we can become easily distracted with the likes of social media, fun events, weddings, going out and traveling that end up consuming most of our money. In fact, social lifestyle is why many millennials are actually in debt to start with.

Perspective: While this isn't to say you can't have a social life AND pay off your student loans, it's to say that you will most likely have to limit your spending when it comes to social activities if you want to pay off your student loans!

The Final Word on Ways to Pay Off Student Loans:

At the end of the day what you decide to do with your student loans depends on you and your financial goals. 

If you're looking to start a family, buy a house or add to your travel fund – it might be worth getting your student loans paid off as soon as possible – even if that means sacrificing some short term fun and social events in the meantime.

Paying off student loans should be simple, but can be tricky because:

  1. Our parents did not have student loans so their advice when it comes to them is pretty much obsolete in most cases
  2. Our grandparents don't even know what a student loan is and thought our college was free
  3. We are not taught how interest works in formal schooling

Paying off your student loans is truly a simple process:

  1. Desire to get rid of student loans
  2. Start with extra payments each month
  3. Figure out way to make more money to pay off loans quicker
  4. Set a date to have your goals paid off and challenge yourself!

For more creative student loan pay off strategies and a step by step workbook, use this guide here.

Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $200,000 in student loans with his wife in less than four years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, helping others with their debt and recommend using Personal Capital to track your finances.