Pay less later by doing more now.

When it comes to student debt, the longer it takes to repay your loans, the more expensive your education becomes.

While repayment of your unsubsidized debt is deferred until you are out of school, the interest “meter” starts running as soon as each loan is disbursed.

When you graduate, if you are like most students, you end up owing even more than you thought you did thanks to this accumulation of interest, which is added to the outstanding balance. It’s this realization that’s led previous borrowers to regret not beginning repayment while still in college.

Even though you may expect to borrow each year you are in school, paying small amounts on your loans while still enrolled can make a difference, especially since there is no penalty for prepayment. In fact, some lenders may even lower your interest rate if you go this route.

Nickeling and diming your way to debt-free. 

But, where do you find the money for repayment when you are already likely struggling to make ends meet?

Here are some tactics others have found useful for squeezing a few extra dollars from their own tight budgets.

  • Round up. When you pay for something, pay in dollars and save the change. Periodically deposit your change into a separate account that is only used for paying down your college debt.

    If you are a debit or credit card user, apps like Acorns will automatically do something very similar for you, as will some banks.

  • Save $5 bills. Train yourself to only carry singles, tens and twenties. Whenever you receive a five-dollar bill, put it away to use for your next loan repayment.
  • Use “found” money. Another tactic that can help is to actually redirect the “savings” you realize each time you get a bargain or discount on something you were planning to buy. In other words, literally save that 20% off you just received on your purchase and apply it to your loan balance.

If you do make payments while still in school, just let your loan servicer know you want to apply the money you are sending to the loan balance. For other tips on managing and reducing debt, talk to any NFCC® Certified Consumer Credit Counselor.

Who is the NFCC?

Founded in 1951, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) is the nation's first and largest nonprofit dedicated to improving people's financial well-being.

NFCC members help millions of consumers like you through community-based offices located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Each NFCC member agency has earned our seal by adhering to high standards and ethical practices designed to help you achieve financial stability.

Funding for operations and services comes from an ever-changing combination of federal, state and local government grants, as well as donations from financial industry participants and private donors.

For more on the NFCC, visit

Thank you to our funders.

The Sharpen Your Financial Focus program is an initiative of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) in partnership with a broad cross-section of supporters. Together, we are committed to increasing the financial well-being of Americans. This initiative is partially funded by Bank of America, Chase, Synchrony, Wells Fargo and other major financial institutions. We thank all funders and partners who make this program possible. For more information, visit

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