10 Creative Ways to Pay Off Student Loans
You may wonder, does paying off student loans help credit score ratings? While there is a slight dip, in the long run paying them off does generate a net positive on your credit score. But paying off student loans in a timely manner isn’t always easy—and it can take longer than you’d expect. As of 2021, it takes the average borrower 20 years to pay off their student loans.1
If money is tight, or if you’re trying to learn how to lower debt-to-income ratio ahead of another loan application (like a home refinance), you may be in search of some creative ways to pay off student loans. We’ve got you covered.
In this guide, we’re breaking down 10 opportunities to earn extra cash—cash that you can use to pay off your student loans. While some of our suggestions are old-school (like picking up a babysitting gig), others are a little less conventional (like becoming a taste tester). But, if you can add even one of the income sources below to your side hustle docket, you could take home some extra money to knock out your student loan a little faster.
10 Savvy and Creative Ways to Pay Off Student Loans
Whether you leverage the power of the internet age or convert your home equity, you have lots of opportunities to increase your income—income you can use to chip away at your student debt.
While you may not have signed up for a babysitting gig since high school, why not dust off your short-term childcare skills to make extra money?
Babysitters are in high demand, as parents around the country report difficulty finding a babysitter even if they start looking well in advance.2 Many babysitters are using this labor shortage to their advantage, raising their prices or asking for on-the-job perks like food delivery.
Plus, babysitting rates are higher than ever before:3
- In 2022, the average hourly rate for one child was $20.57 for one child (or $23.35 for two).
- San Francisco, CA touts the highest babysitting rate in the country—an average of $23.32 for one child (or $26.42 for two).
- San Antonio, TX features the lowest average babysitting rate for an urban area at $12.70 for one child (or $15.66 for two).
Even if babysitting isn’t a hot commodity in your area, picking up a babysitting job once per month is an excellent way to earn extra money for student loan repayments.
#2 Take Online Surveys
Online surveys can be a lucrative way to add some extra cash to your bank account—especially if you have a desk job. If you sit at a computer for most of the day, why not use some of your lunch breaks to take a few quick, paid surveys?
Some of the most popular platforms for online surveys are:
- Survey Junkie
You can earn anywhere between $1 and $20 per survey, and some only take a few minutes to complete. Taking a few surveys a day is an excellent way to add supplemental income to your monthly budget and free up some cash for student loan payments.
#3 Become a Taste Tester
Many companies offer taste-testing opportunities before taking a new product to market—an opportunity you can take advantage of if you’re looking for a creative way to pay off your student loans.
Paid taste testers can make anywhere between $15 and $30 per tasting session, and there are multiple companies and agencies around the country that offer paid taste-testing:4
- Schwan Food Company
- Contract Testing
- Apex Life Sciences
- National Food Lab
If you live near a local branch of one of the companies above, check out their website and sign up for their next taste-testing opportunity.
#4 Participate in Focus Groups
Like taste testing, focus groups give you an opportunity to provide paid feedback on products, creative projects, advertising campaigns, and so much more. Plus, in the digital age, hopping into a focus group session can be as easy as joining a video call.
While pay varies from project to project, focus groups can be a lucrative opportunity. Just take a look at some of the current ads posted on User Interviews, a popular online focus group platform:5
- A 30-minute TV ad evaluation session pays $30
- A 15-minute product feedback session pays $50
- A 1-hour reading habits survey interview pays $70
Don’t forget to also check out in-person opportunities in your area. If you add a weekly focus group to your docket, the extra cash could stack up fast.
#5 Create an Online Course
Platforms like Coursera, Chegg, and Masterclass have made it easier than ever to learn something new from home. Paid online learning opportunities are more popular than ever—Masterclass alone was recently valued at over $2 billion.6
While you may not have Gordon Ramsay-level culinary chops, you might have a niche skill or expertise in a specific subject area. Why not make an online course to share what you know?
Online courses take a variety of forms—think about:
- Making an informative slideshow and recording yourself giving the presentation
- Building a written how-to guide
- Hosting a paid webinar and offering a Q&A session at the end
Whether you’re a master of crochet or know everything there is to know about quantum mechanics, someone is ready to learn about it.
#6 Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness
While the White House announced its student loan forgiveness program in 2022 for student loan borrowers, there are numerous opportunities and programs you can take advantage of to waive some or all of your student loans.7
Keep an eye out for opportunities like:
- Federal loan forgiveness programs
- Employer-based loan forgiveness
- Grants or repayment programs from private companies
Paying back your student loans using one of the tips in this list could help you speed up your repayment timeline—but finding a way to cancel your student debt altogether could save you time and money.
#7 Become a Proofreader
If you’re an avid reader, consider picking up a side hustle as a proofreader to make a little extra cash.
Proofreading might sound intimidating. But, it’s important to remember the distinction between proofreading and editing.
Editors typically review texts and make suggestions for:8
- Citation correctness
Whereas proofreaders typically correct mistakes in:
Try the following tactics to advertise your services and pick up a few gigs:
- Use an online platform like Thumbtack or Fiverr
- Advertise on social media
- Spread the word to friends, family, and colleagues
#8 Offer Parking in Your Yard
Depending on where you live, the rules in your community, and the events taking place in your neighborhood, you could earn some extra cash for student loan repayment by offering a parking space in your yard.
If you have room for an extra car, a boat, or a camper, post an ad on social media or Craigslist. The best part—you make the rules. You’re in control of:
- The price
- The type(s) of vehicles you allow to park on your property
- The duration
This could be particularly lucrative if you live in a college town. Parking on campus is expensive, and students (or their visiting parents) might be looking for a cheaper or more accessible parking option. If you have the space and your community rules allow it, offering up a parking space is an excellent way to pad your income (or put some extra money toward your student loan payment each month).
#9 Offer Your Car For Rent
If you drive infrequently or have an extra vehicle, consider offering a private car rental through a platform like Turo. Some consider Turo to be the Airbnb of car rental—instead of turning to a professional service (and paying astronomical prices), consumers choose vehicles from a bank of listings posted by everyday car owners.9
This could be particularly lucrative if you have:
- A unique or vintage vehicle
- A car with 4-wheel drive or towing capabilities
- A pickup truck
As long as your car is clean and in good condition, you could reap the benefits of rental.
#10 Consider a Sale-Leaseback Transaction
If you own your home, consider paying off your student loans with a sale-leaseback transaction.
What is a sale-leaseback? In a sale-leaseback agreement, owners sell an illiquid asset (like a real estate property) and then lease (or rent) it back from the buyer.10
There are two major sale-leaseback benefits:
- Fast cash – Your home has value, and with a sale-leaseback transaction, you can convert your home’s equity into cash without moving to a new home.
- The option to buy it back – If you convert home equity via sale-leaseback, you can always re-purchase your home from the buyer once you’re more financially stable (i.e., after you pay back your student loan debt and save a little cash).
Sale-leaseback can be a convenient and lucrative way for homeowners to convert their home equity into cash for fast student loan repayment.
BONUS: Consider Student Loan Refinancing
Student loan refinancing involves obtaining a new loan to pay off your current student loans. The main goal of refinancing is to secure a lower interest rate, which can help you save money on your monthly payments and reach your financial goals more quickly. When you refinance your student loans, you’ll work with a new loan servicer to set up your new loan terms and make payments. If you’re considering student loan refinancing, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of refinancing student loans and understand how the new terms will impact your overall financial plan.
If money is tight, it can be difficult to chip away at your student loan balance. But, if you’d like to shorten the average repayment timeline, there are numerous creative ways to pay off student loans.
A sale-leaseback could also work for you. With a sale-leaseback you sell your home for fair market value and get the cash you need, then rent the property back—no moving trucks or frustrating property searches necessary.
- Education Data Initiative. Average Time to Repay Student Loans. https://educationdata.org/average-time-to-repay-student-loans
- Business Insider. Babysitters Are in High Demand, Giving Them Leverage to Make Up to $35 an Hour and Reap Other Perks: “‘We’ll Order Anything You Want for Dinner.’ https://www.businessinsider.com/babysitters-are-a-scarce-commodity-and-prices-are-going-up-2022-5
- Today. What Are Babysitting Rates for 2022? Here’s the Range. https://www.today.com/parents/what-are-babysitter-rates-these-days-here-s-range-t148512
- DollarBreak. 7 Companies that Do Taste Testing for Money. https://www.dollarbreak.com/taste-testing-for-money/
- User Interviews. Paid Online 1-on-1 Interviews. https://www.userinterviews.com/studies/online/one-on-one?sort=-id
- CNBC. MasterClass More Than Triples Valuation in One Year. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/13/masterclass-more-than-triples-valuation-in-one-year.html
- The White House. Public Service Loan Forgiveness. https://www.whitehouse.gov/publicserviceloanforgiveness/
- Illinois Writers Workshop. Editing and Proofreading. https://writersworkshop.illinois.edu/resources-2/writer-resources/writing-processes/editing-and-proofreading/
- Turo. How Turo Works. https://turo.com/us/en/car-rental/united-states
- Investopedia. Leaseback (or Sale-Leaseback): Definition, Benefits, and Examples. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/leaseback.asp