More than $1.2 trillion in loan debt is owed by students or former students—often resulting in young professionals beginning their careers with one financial hand tied behind their back.

Following are five tips to paying down college debt.
  1. Putting all student loans into one consolidated payment might make sense, but could have costly strings attached. Know the facts before refinancing federal student loans into a private party loan, such as with a bank. 
  2. There are programs through which federal student loans can be forgiven, but some form of public service work is required. Find out more at ibrinfo.org/what.vp.html#pslf.
  3. Make extra payments if possible, even if it is just $10 a month. Doing so reduces loan principal faster and cuts interest costs. Make sure the lender knows that’s the purpose, and that the next month’s payment is not being made in advance. 
  4. Explore income-based repayment plans. This can mean lower initial payments until income grows. It also can extend payback time, meaning interest costs will be higher during the life of the loan. 
  5. Repaying loans via automatic deduction from a checking account might get a little bit taken off the interest rate. 
Student loan debt comes with a cost. Research every option before borrowing a dollar. In addition, check out feedthepig.org, developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, for more financial resources.


Sam French is an audit partner in the construction division of Rodefer Moss & Co. PLLC, Knoxville, Tenn., and a member of the ABC National Young Professionals group. For more information, email sfrench@rodefermoss.com.