The cost of higher education is becoming nearly impossible to afford without student loans. On the plus side, most loan companies defer the payments until after 6 months after the student’s graduation date. Unfortunately, once the grace period is over, students are often left in an abyss of confusion and mountains of debt.

Pay a Little Extra

Before you start payments, make sure you’re in a good position. You don’t want a high payment that will put a strain on your wallet and well-being. Work with your bank to establish an affordable payment plan.

Calculate how much you make and subtract living necessities such as rent, food, and gas. With what’s left, see how much more you can afford to pay instead of just paying the minimum balance due each month. Even if you only pay 40 dollars extra, it still will help pay off your loans faster.

Consolidate or Refinance

When you start making payments on your loan, you’ll have either a fixed or variable interest rate. This can depend on the bank your loan is through, and will effect your payment amount if you choose to go with a variable rate. If your payment is unaffordable, consider consolidation or refinancing.

Consolidating your loan will combine every loan you took out into one big loan. Instead of paying multiple loans, you’ll only have one to focus on. Check out the top banks to refinance a loan with if you need to lower payments and potentially save money to pay back less.

See if Your Job Has Forgiveness

Federal agencies, public services, non-profits and even teachers are eligible for loan forgiveness programs. Depending on what your job is, you may be able to get some of your loans forgiven.

If you join the military or work in a low-income school district, the government offers loan forgiveness. See if your job qualifies for loan forgiveness to eliminate some of your debt.

Use Your Piggy Bank

Make your pennies count. Keep a jar or piggy bank full of extra cash or loose change. If you shop with cash and get change back, don’t spend that money. Place it in your piggy bank and use it towards your loans once the bank is full.

You’d be surprised how fast change can add up. Even if you only save $74.82 in half a year of saving, it’s still $74.82 you can put towards your loan.

Stop Purchasing Unnecessary Items

You don’t need the finer things in life if you’re working on paying off your student loans as quickly as possible. Instead of paying for Starbucks a few times a week, get a coffee maker and fill up your cup at home. Stop yourself from purchasing gadgets that are a waste of your money, and put that extra cash towards your loans instead.

Paying off student loans can seem daunting and many grow overwhelmed by all the numbers. If you strategically put effort into paying your loans, you’ll work your debt down quickly and efficiently.