Ultimate Guide to Paying off Engineering Student Loans

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Once you’ve graduated and found your first job, you may still have to deal with student loans from your engineering degree.

The average Class of 2018 graduate has $29,800 in student loans, according to an analysis by Student Loan Hero. That can feel overwhelming to people in any field, including engineers.

To help relieve the burden, consider programs that provide student loan forgiveness for engineers, as well as repayment strategies that can save you money over time. Here’s how:

Look into student loan forgiveness for engineers

You may be able to get your federal student loan debt wiped out completely after a certain period of time if you work as an engineer for a government agency or a qualifying nonprofit organization. The Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program forgives the balance on federal direct loans after the borrower makes 120 qualifying payments. That means it takes at least 10 years, and you must be on an income-driven repayment plan during that time.

There are also other federal and state programs that offer repayment assistance or forgiveness for engineers. If you work in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field in Maine, for instance, you may be able to get up to half of your student loan balance paid off through the Alfond Leaders student debt reduction program if you qualify. Other states may also offer similar programs, so look into what’s available in your area.

Finally, you may qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program if you opt to teach at a school that serves low-income students, instead of working as a full-time engineer.

Refinance student loans

Even if you can’t get your debt forgiven, you can use repayment strategies that will reduce your loan balance faster than by only making the minimum payment.

First, you might want to consider lowering your interest rate. Refinancing your student loans may help you secure a lower interest rate, reduce your monthly payments or both. Saving on interest means you’ll have more money to put toward your loans to get rid of them faster.

If you use a private loan to refinance your federal loans, though, you will lose access to certain benefits, such as student loan forgiveness for engineers and income-driven repayment plans. Weigh out the pros and cons to determine if it’s the right move for you.

Make biweekly payments

After you’ve secured the best interest rate — or even if you chose not to refinance — start making payments on your loans biweekly instead of monthly. Biweekly or half-payments will lead to the equivalent of one full extra payment per year, helping you make a bigger dent in your student loans.

Here’s how you pay every two weeks:

  • Split your monthly payment in half.
  • Make a half-payment every other week.
  • Ensure that your both of your payments are made before your next due date.
  • Read your statement online to make sure your servicer is applying them correctly.

Biweekly payments are even easier if your employer pays you every other week — just set up an automatic payment for your student loans every pay day.

It’s crucial to make sure any extra payments you make are applied toward the principal. Some student loan servicers may apply your extra payment toward a future bill, rather than allocating it to the current principal balance. Check your account online or call your servicer to make sure your payments are applied correctly.

Set a target payoff date

Once you’ve optimized your payments to make sure as much of your money is going to the principal as possible, the next step is to set a target payoff date. Setting an earlier payoff date than the current term of the student loans for your engineering degree will help you save money on interest, and free you from debt sooner.

There are a few ways to choose a target payoff date:

  • Pick a date based on the maximum amount you can afford to pay each month.
  • Decide on a payoff date based on the maximum amount of years you’re comfortable with being in student loan debt.
  • Think about another goal you want to reach and pick your date based on when you want to reach that goal.

Once you’ve picked a target payoff date, calculate how much you’ll need to pay per month to hit it using our Student Loan Payment Calculator. You can also use our Student Loan Prepayment Calculator to see how much you’d save in interest, and how much time you’d shave off your repayment term, by paying extra every month. Note – These calculators are estimates.

Make the most of your income with a spending plan

Setting up a budget or spending plan can help keep you on track toward a debt-free life, no matter the size of your salary.

There are a variety of ways to make a budget. Try a few and see which one works best for you. By setting intentions for your spending, you may realize you can afford to pay even more money toward student loans than you originally planned.

Allocate money for fun, too, to ensure you’re not creating a budget that’s too restrictive. Sticking to your spending plan can help you enjoy your money in the short term without falling behind on your long-term goals.

Pay off engineering student loans so you can grow your money

Paying off student loans for your engineering degree sooner not only reduces the amount of stress in your life — it can also free up money for other goals, like investing. Plus, you may save thousands of dollars in interest.

Look into student loan forgiveness for engineers. If you’re not eligible, consider other repayment strategies that can help you bring the balance down to zero. That can help ensure you can put your engineering salary to good use.

Joni Sweet contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.89% – 5.99%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.99% – 5.64%2Undergrad
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1.99% – 6.84%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.91% – 5.25%4Undergrad
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Visit Lendkey

2.25% – 6.53%5Undergrad
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Visit SoFi

2.17% – 4.47%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit PenFed

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of Feburary 1, 2021.


2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. ‍All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.


4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: 1. Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.99% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.53% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.12% plus 2.38% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the interest savings are applied to the principal loan balance, which may help pay the loan down faster. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score.Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

6 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.99%-5.15% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.17%-4.47% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.