They say college is the best years of your life. In a blink of an eye those years are gone and you’re walking up to accept your diploma. Pictures and memories will be your only reminder of those great years. Well those and crushing student loans. While you could pay minimum payments every month for the next 10-30 years, there are strategies to speed up the process and save money over time.

Make a Plan. Take stock of all of your student loans including principal and interest. Set a reasonable goal for paying down debt. Don’t know where to start? Pick the highest interest loan and pay it down first. This will lower your interest accrual and may even lower your overall monthly payments.

Target the Principal. Interest payments are based on the principal amount. If you can decrease the principal, then interest will also decrease, allowing more of your monthly payment to go directly to paying down the loan. Simply put…the more you pay monthly, the faster your principal will shrink, the less interest you’ll pay and the faster you’ll pay off your loan.

Set Up Auto Pay. One of the easiest steps for paying down student loans is to set up auto pay through your lender. It’ll prevent you from missing payments or having to deal with late fees. Some lenders will reward this practice with a deduction in interest, helping decrease the amount of money you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

Exercise Some Discipline. This tip is probably the hardest. To truly make a dent in your loans, sacrifices need to be made. Putting a temporary hold on luxuries like going out for dinner could help save funds for additional principal payments. Bigger sacrifices could mean bigger loan payments. Instead of that one bedroom apartment in the city, live in the suburbs with friends. Instead of that new car, stick with your “hooptie” for a while.

Consider Refinancing. Now might be the time to consider refinancing student loans, while interest rates are low. Millennials that attended college after the Great Recession in 2009 may have taken on loans with higher interest rates. Refinancing could not only lower your interest rate—saving money over the life of the loan—but could also lower your monthly payments. You can look into refinancing options at Studentloanhero, where they collect and compare refinancing lenders.

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