For many students and graduates, a looming student debt is a burden that they would rather do without. Many are now opting to fast-track the repayment of their student loans and clear the debt in much less time than the compulsory repayments would take to have it paid off.

If your student debt is something you want to get rid of quickly then read on for five tips on how you can start reducing your debt as quickly as possible.

Effective Budgeting

If you’ve elected to pay for your study under the Australian government’s HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP schemes, then you’re already paying off instalments of your student debt proportionate to your income, provided that you are earning. This is often a very slow way to clear your debt, and paying off the full amount of your loan may take decades.

If you want to clear the debt fast, then you should work towards dedicating an extra portion of each pay to your student loans and contribute voluntary payments on top of the compulsory percentage.

student debt

The most effective way to do this in a time frame that suits you is to budget effectively. Make sure that you are divvying up your pay to allow for day-to-day expenses, savings, other loan repayments, and an additional student loan contribution amount. Goal setting is the best way to reach your target: decide how long you want to take to pay out your student loan, how much is still owing, and from there you’ll know how much you need to put away from each pay to have it paid off when you’ve aimed to.

Voluntary Repayment Bonus

In an initiative to increase the number of students making voluntary, the government offer a 5% bonus for any voluntary contributions of $500 or more. This means that when $500+ payment is made on a student’s HELP debt, 5% of the payment will be credited back to the graduate’s account.

This means that if you’re going to make voluntary repayments in order to repay your entire HELP debt within the goal period you’ve set in your budget, you’re better off making lump payments of $500 or greater. Put away your goal amount from each pay into a separate account, and whenever you exceed $500, pay it back into your student loan to maximize the benefits of voluntary repayments.

Secondary Income

It can be a tough slog, but if you’re really set on clearing out that student debt as fast as you can, you might consider a second job. You can then choose to live off your primary income as normal, but devote any income (or at least a portion) from your second job to paying off your student loan. You’ll be living off the same amount as before, but paying your debts off much faster.

HECS-HELP Benefit

The Australian government provides a benefit to graduates working in selected fields, which works as an incentive to encourage them to work in occupations related to their degree. This could mean that you may be eligible to apply to have your compulsory repayment amount or your accumulated HECS debt reduced. To find out more about the benefit and assess your eligibility, visit the ATO website.

Consolidate Your Debts

Debt consolidation involves combining all your existing debts into one by paying them off with a new loan, leaving you with one easy repayment, ideally at a lower interest rate.

Contact a reputable debt consolidation company like Fox Symes to take you through the process and find the best consolidation loan to suit your personal circumstances.

There’s a lot of value in taking the road less travelled, especially if it means alleviating yourself of looming student debts as fast as possible. With effective budgeting and consolidation loans you can take control of your finances beyond just student loans. And once you’ve paid off your debt, you’ll have a whole new portion of your income to put toward something else. It’s never too early to get started, and it’s absolutely worthwhile.

Tara Blair is a Personal Finance Writer from Brisbane, Australia. She provides these tips to students who are looking to get rid of their education expenses as soon as possible and start saving.