How to Help Your Kids Pay Student Loan Debt

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By Kat Tretina

December 4, 2019

As a parent, you want the very best for your child. That’s why it can be so hard to watch your kids struggle with student loan debt after they graduate from college. The average graduate has $35,620 in student loans, and with so much debt, your child may have issues paying their bills and making ends meet.  

It’s no wonder that so many parents end up helping their children repay their loans. In a recent survey from College Ave, 72 percent of respondents said they’d pay off some or all of their child’s student loans. Of those who have children with loans, 1 in 10 parents said they will pay off the entire loan amount.

If you want to contribute to your child’s student loans, but can’t afford to pay off their entire balance, there are other ways you can make a meaningful difference: 

1. Match their student loan payments.

To help your child repay their loans — and to encourage them to stay motivated — consider matching their student loan payments. For every dollar they pay toward their student loans, offer to pay that same amount toward their debt, up to a monthly maximum you set. 

For example, if your child makes a $250 payment, you’d contribute another $250. By effectively doubling the monthly payments, your child will become debt-free much faster and save thousands in interest charges. 

2. Skip birthday and holiday gifts.

If you can’t afford to make regular contributions, you can still provide your child with helpful windfalls. Think about how much money you spend on your kid throughout the year on birthday gifts or holiday presents.

Instead of spending more money on stuff your child may not need, use the money you would’ve spent on a gift to make an extra payment on their student loans. Occasional lump sum payments can lower the principal and reduce interest charges, helping your child save money. 

3. Co-sign their student loan refinancing application.

Student loan refinancing can be an effective way to tackle debt. Qualified applicants can get a lower interest rate, so more of their monthly payment goes towards principal rather than interest. Over time, refinancing their loans can help your child save thousands of dollars. 

For example, let’s say your child had $35,000 in student loans at 7% interest, with a 10-year repayment term. By the end of the loan term, your child will have repaid $48,766.

But if your child refinanced their loans and qualified for a 10-year loan at 5.5% interest, they’d repay just $45,581. By refinancing their debt, they’d save over $3,000. 

Keep in mind refinancing federal student loans means a loss in many benefits – income-driven repayment plans, any federal forgiveness programs, generous deferment options, and more.



Original Loan

Refinanced Loan

Loan Amount



Interest Rate



Loan Term

10 Years

10 Years

Monthly Payment



Total Repaid



Total Interest




However, recent graduates may struggle to qualify for a loan on their own, or they may not get approved for a low interest rate. 

If you have good credit and a stable income, one of the best ways to help your child is to co-sign their student loan refinancing application. As a co-signer, you agree to make payments on the loan if your child falls behind. Having a co-signer reduces the lender’s risk, so they’re more likely to approve your child for a loan and give them a competitive interest rate. 

4. Let your kids move back in.

There’s a reason why 50% of millennials enrolled in college say they intend to move back in with their parents after graduation. Depending on where you live, this could end up saving your child thousands every month. If you’re going this route, be sure that the money they are saving is going towards student loan debt and not new clothes and vacations.

5. Be supportive in other ways.

If you can’t afford to help your child with student loan debt and moving back home isn’t an option, there are still other ways you can help. Encourage them to stay motivated with their debt repayment and offer suggestions for ways to increase income while reducing spending.

The bottom line

If you want to help your child with their student loan payments and can afford to do so, there are many different ways you can make an impact. Just remember to keep your own financial health in mind, and don’t overextend yourself just to get your child out of debt. 

If your child is serious about paying off their loans, learn how small changes can accelerate their debt repayment

Want more advice for dealing with student loan debt? Sign up for our free student loan newsletter (and tell your kids to sign up, too). And don’t forget to follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and suggest your kids to follow along as well. 

Have a question on student loans? Send your question to our Publisher and VP of Research, Mark Kantrowitz, the nation’s leading expert on student loans and financial aid. Email Your question may be featured in an upcoming article. Due to a high volume of submissions, not all questions can be answered.

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