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There are a variety of ways to pay down those loans. Unfortunately, the best and quickest one is probably to take on a second job or a second shift where you work. Or maybe your partner could go to work. There seem to now be a large number of part-time jobs available. While they usually pay only $9 or $10 an hour, you could work 20 hours a week and earn somewhere around $600 a month after taxes. Apply all that money to pay down your student loans and you might be able to become debt free in just five years or even fewer.
If a part-time job isn't your cup of tea there are other ways to increase your earnings. We know of one young woman who has completely paid off her credit cards selling weight loss products in her spare time. Many people have earned extra money to pay off their student loans by selling stuff on eBay. If you're into vintage or handcrafted items, the website Etsy could be a good place to earn extra money. Sometimes the best solution is to think outside the box. We know of one woman who spent a year couch hopping from apartment to apartment and saved enough in rent to pay off her student debts. Another lived and taught abroad in a nation that has a much cheaper cost of living than the US. She was able to save enough to completely pay off her student loans in just three years. Plus, she had the fun and experience of living in a foreign country. There is also the story of the graduate student at Duke who lived in his van for a year. While that might not appeal to you a little thinking outside box like this and you could get your student loans paid down in no time at all.
Cancellation and forgiveness
If you join the National Guard you could earn up to $10,000 to pay off your student loans. Volunteer for the Peace Corps and you could get deferment on your federal student loans and your Perkins Loans partially canceled. The way this works is you would get 15% cancelled for each year of service up to 70%. So, serve in the Peace Corps for three years and you could get 45% of your Perkins loans canceled. You could also earn a stipend of $4725 to pay down your loans by serving in AmeriCorps or Volunteers In Service to America (Vista). If you have the credentials necessary to teach and are willing to teach in a low-income school you could earn loan forgiveness. The way this works is that you must make 120 on time payments after which time any of your remaining balances would be forgiven.
You could also earn loan forgiveness by working in the public sector. There is a program called Public Service Loan Forgiveness. You could have almost any kind of job so long as you were working for a federal, state or local government or a non-profit organization recognized as a 501(3)(c) by the IRS. Make 120 qualified on-time payments and just as is the case with teacher loan forgiveness any of your remaining balances would be forgiven.