Student loans are one of the most significant expenses in the life of a young adult. The decision of how much to borrow and how long to pay it off will have real implications for how to choose your quality of life. The optimal goal is to pay them off as soon as possible, and there are a few different strategies designed to help people pay their student loans off quickly.

When payments are this important, the best thing borrowers can do is to use autopay functionality with their accounts. This relieves some of the anxiety about fulfilling obligations because the whole process is automated, meaning there are never any late payments or missed payments to worry about. Avoiding late fees removes the huge burden of interest that many borrowers have to pay back over the life of a student loan. Another important feature of autopay is that loan providers typically offer a discount when this option is used. It may not sound like much, but this small discount can add up to hundreds of dollars over the life of the loan. By keeping the money in a savings account accruing interest, it is also working smarter for you, plus you aren’t wasting it in the form of late interest payments.

One of the most obvious ways to pay down loans quickly is to make extra payments as often as possible. However, it’s important to make sure that the loan provider is crediting those payments properly. Borrowers are able to decide whether they’d like to apply the payment to the next month’s balance or have it credited as a true extra payment. This distinction matters. Paying an extra $50 or $100 per month can reduce payment time by several years which can greatly reduce the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan. However, that’s only true if the payments are applied properly to the account. The key is to make sure the servicer is applying it to the current balance. Often, borrowers need to put this order in writing.

Finally, refinancing can be a great option for some borrowers. This means consolidating all outstanding student loans into one loan with one payment. For people with good credit and a decent job, refinancing can mean big savings. For example, some borrowers have seen their interest rates drop by as much as four points thanks to refinancing. This can mean saving thousands of dollars over the years of payments.