There’s no telling how much longer the student debt crisis will continue, but so long as it does, paying off your student loans is an issue that many Americans will be addressing for the better part of their adult lives. Getting a higher education requires a lot of hard work and tenacity, but paying off your loans requires so much more. If you’re not able to find a high paying job directly after graduating, then your debt could be growing into something of a monster within a very short amount of time. If you don’t want to face this challenge for an undetermined number of decades, then you’re going to need to do your homework. Here are five ways to minimize your student loan debt.

5 Ways To Minimize Your Student Loan Debt

  1. Get a Loan with a Fixed Interest Rate

Most federal loans offer a fixed rate, while most private loans will offer either a fixed or a flexible rate. This means that the interest rate you pay may change over time. In most cases, it does nothing but grow. You may initially be tempted to accept a flexible rate because it starts much lower than the fixed rates you’ve been offered, but unless you can pay off your loans pretty immediately, you never know how high that rate may go over the years.

  1. Start Paying It Off Early

Whether you have a fixed rate or a flexible rate, you’re going to want to start paying off your loans as early as possible. If you are working a job in college and you make more than enough to pay your living expenses, you should be putting money toward paying off your loans before you start shopping for designer clothes. It may not be common for someone to start paying off their loans before graduation, but if you can manage it, then you definitely should.

  1. See If You Qualify for Loan Forgiveness

Depending on the school you went to and the type of loans you have, you may qualify for loan forgiveness. A federal loan for a school like Washington State University might afford you the opportunity to have your loans forgiven, but you will need to accept very particular terms in exchange. You may be asked to volunteer for a number of different human rights organizations, teach in lower-income schools, or enlist in the military for a particular period of time.

  1. Consolidate Your Debt

If you have several sources of debt in addition to your student loan debt, then you may want to look into having it consolidated. In this situation, you would turn all of your debt over to a consolidator who will pay all of your bills for you, and you will pay this person one simple bill per month.

  1. File for Bankruptcy

There are many cases where student loans are not forgiven even when you file for bankruptcy. Although, with the right lawyer, and if your situation is such that you can prove that you will endure undue hardship, you may be able to pull it off. Just remember that bankruptcy is a very big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.