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Younger Adults Think They'll Be Student Debt-Free Before Age 30

By Maurie Backman – Apr 19, 2019 at 5:36PM

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It's a great goal to achieve -- but it's easier said than done.

With the cost of college going nowhere but up, a growing number of students are finding that attaining that diploma means racking up loads of debt along the way. The average Class of 2017 graduate, for example, came away $28,500 in the hole, and an estimated 71% of folks who finish college wind up with some level of debt in the process.

It's therefore encouraging to see that younger Americans are fairly optimistic about shedding that debt rather quickly. In a recent GOBankingRates survey, millennial and Gen Z respondents were of the impression that they'll be able to completely eliminate their student debt between the ages of 28 and 29.

Graduation cap on a pile of hundred-dollar bills


On the other hand, given the level of debt so many students are graduating with, that assumption might be somewhat misguided. In fact, Gen Zers expect it to take until ages 37 to 45 to pay back everything they owe, which may be a more realistic time frame.

Still, there are things you can do to expedite the student loan repayment process and get out of debt sooner. Here are a few tricks you can try.

1. Refinance to a lower interest rate

If you took out private student loans for college, chances are, you're stuck with a pretty hefty interest rate. That's because private loans aren't regulated the same way federal loans are, and many come with adjustable rates that can climb over time. If that's the challenge you're facing, it pays to look into refinancing your student debt. By swapping your existing loan for a new one with a lower interest rate, you'll reduce your monthly payments. Once that happens, you can keep paying the higher amount you're used to, only the excess can go toward knocking out your loan's principal.

2. Move back home after college

Moving back home after your studies may not be your ideal living situation, especially if you spent your time at college dorming or living independently. But if you're eager to knock out your student loans quickly, moving back home is a great way to do it. Chances are, your parents will either let you live rent-free or charge you just a modest amount to reside under their roof. If you're lucky, you might also avoid paying for things like heat, water, and electricity. So, you'll be left with extra money to bank during that period, and if you apply the bulk of it toward your outstanding student debt, you'll get rid of it sooner.

3. Get a side gig

Entry-level jobs aren't exactly known to pay generously. If you're serious about eliminating your student loans before age 30, a second job might be a good solution, especially since your income from that gig won't already be earmarked for anything in particular. The best part about getting a side hustle is that the work at hand doesn't have to be torture. If you'd rather not wait tables or tackle customer inquiries at a call center, you can sign up to walk dogs, house-sit, photograph events, or sell your homemade crafts at local festivals and fairs. The possibilities are truly endless, and in many cases, your second job won't even require you to leave the house.

4. Find a job that offers student loan repayment assistance

These days, a growing number of companies are recognizing the need to help ease the burden of student debt for employees and are offering loan repayment programs as part of their benefit packages. Finding a job that offers this perk is a good way to rid yourself of student debt sooner, but keep in mind that in many cases, you'll need to commit to staying at that company for a certain period of time to reap that benefit.

Being student-debt free before the age of 30 is a lofty goal but an attainable one. You just need to be willing to make some sacrifices to get there.

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