How To Pay Off Optometry School Student Loan Debt As Quickly As Possible
Updated: Aug 17
How do you pay off optometry school debt as quickly as possible?
In this video, I share with you proven strategies on how to pay off optometry school debt including a few pitfalls to avoid along the way.
Student loans are a weight on your shoulders
In 2019, optometry students reported an average amount of optometry student loan debt of 173K.
Honestly, I know a ton of optometrists that have optometry school loan debt north of 200K and this doesn't include the interest that accrues over time. Yikes!
Here are 9 tips to help you pay off optometry school debt as quickly as possible.
1) Live like a student after graduation
I know this is the last thing you want to hear right out of optometry school. You have been restricted financially and are about to receive your first professional paycheck. The temptation to splurge is real!
Honestly, I highly recommend you temper your expectations doing so. If you're able to live like a student and you're able to budget accordingly, you're able to pay off your student loans much quicker than if you don’t.
I'm not saying don't treat yourself. I’m simply recommending you don’t go overboard and make it a habit.
2) Consider high-income potential jobs opportunities
Your first job after graduation most likely won't be your last so consider opportunities that offer lucrative salaries and bonus potential. Furthermore, consider jobs that have student loan repayment incorporated.
This often isn’t a practice opportunity with the “promise” of buying into the practice in the future (which is never a guarantee).
Gain experience in various high-income practice settings and pay down your student loans before settling into the practice you want to be at for the rest of your career.
3) Apply raises and bonuses toward your student loans
As you get raises or bonuses, apply the extra income straight towards your student loans.
Doing so will allow you to keep a consistent lifestyle while paying off your student loans as quickly as possible.
RELATED: Optometry Income Potential
4) Fill in to make extra money
Talk to your colleagues and find practices you can fill in at.
The demand for fill-in optometrists is high, which often leads to strong income potential.
Plus, you’ll learn more about what you like and don’t like outside of your primary optometry job.
5) Pay off your student loans faster than scheduled
Pay off your 30-year student loan repayment plan as if it was a 10-year plan.
To do so, calculate what your 10-year monthly payment plan would be and start paying it ASAP.
If you run into a time when you are strapped for cash or need to use your finances towards something else, you have the 30-year repayment plan minimum to fall back on (just don’t get too comfortable doing so).
6) Make extra student loan payments each month
As I referenced before, any extra income can be utilized to pay more than the minimum by making extra payments each month.
By paying more than your minimum payment, you are going to quickly see a massive decrease in the amount that you owe on your loans.
7) Refinance your student loans to reduce your interest rate
Refinancing can significantly reduce your interest rate and the amount of money you're paying out in interest.
Side note: Do not refinance your loans if you’re on a pay-as-you-earn student loan repayment plan. Doing so disqualifies you from loan forgiveness.
8) Make biweekly payments on your student loans
If you set up payments every two weeks instead of every month, you'll end up making an extra payment each year!
This is a great way to trick yourself into making an extra payment and cut down your student loan debt quickly over time.
9) Use the debt snowball method
The debt snowball strategy is recommended by financial expert, Dave Ramsey.
What you do is look at all your loans and you start paying off the smallest size loan first while still making the minimum monthly payment on all the other loans.
As you continue to pay off smaller loans over time, you gain momentum and increase your motivation to stick with the loan payoff process.
My optometry student loan repayment journey
Unfortunately, I didn’t start paying off my optometry student loans right out of school. Instead, a student loan advisor convinced me to apply for a pay-as-you-earn student loan repayment plan (a viable plan for many, just not my circumstance).
A few years in, I was just short of 200K in student loan debt and decided I wanted to knock out my student loans as quickly as possible.
After I made that decision, I started taking any extra income I made on top of my base salary and threw it at the loans. This included fill-in compensation, bonuses, speaking/consulting honorarium, and side hustle income.
Learn from my mistakes, take this advice to heart, and knock out your student loan debt as soon as possible.
Student loans are a burden most optometrists have to navigate to become an OD. Once they’re paid off, it feels like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.
What questions do you have about paying off your student loan debt as quickly as possible? Let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for my next video where we can reflect and grow stronger together.
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