How This Millennial Paid Off More Than $37,000 in Student Loans in 10 Months

 July 24, 2019
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Devon Horace
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Photo Credit: Devon Horace

When Devon Horace graduated from St. Joseph’s College New York in 2015, he left with his degree of psychology — and more than $37,000 in student loans.

“I felt it was impossible for me to pay this much debt back,” said Horace. “When student loan repayment started, I felt like it happened so fast.”

Despite feeling overwhelmed by all his debt, Horace decided to aim for the impossible and pay off his debt as quickly as possible.

While the standard student loan repayment plan spans 10 years, Horace retired his debt in just 10 months. Here are the strategies he used to pay off his loans in record time:

Learning from the experts

After facing his mountain of debt, Horace knew he needed expert help. So he turned to podcasts, YouTube videos and debt-free online communities to learn from finance gurus and people who’d been in his shoes.

“I listen to a lot of podcasts and listen to a lot of interviews where millionaires express how important it is to get out of debt to accumulate wealth,” said Horace. “Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire? So I listened and started to apply the methods that were presented to me.”

Some of his favorite experts and motivational speakers were Dave Ramsey, Mark Cuban, Les Brown and Eric Thomas.

“These were the voices that kept me motivated and focused on the big picture,” said Horace. “I also read a ton of books, but the one that affected me the most was ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ by George S. Clason. It taught me the very basics that I share today to accumulate wealth.”

Taking inventory of his debts

The first lesson Horace learned was the importance of taking inventory of his debts so he could have a clear picture of exactly how much he owed and to whom.

“I wrote out all my student loans in a notebook,” said Horace. “I listed each loan amount from the largest dollar amount with the highest interest rate to smallest.”

According to Horace, getting this bird’s-eye view of his loans was an easy but crucial step in tackling his student debt.

“The most effective step was writing my loans down, taking inventory,” he said. “Once I wrote out the loans and actually wrapped my mind around the amount, I was able to start thinking of strategic approaches I can take to start paying this debt down.”

Celebrating small victories

Once Horace had his loans written down, he decided to tackle them one at a time. While still paying the minimum amount on all his debts, he made extra payments on one loan until the balance was completely paid down. Then, he’d move on to the next.

“I tackled my debt one loan at a time,” said Horace. “Once you pay off one debt, you become more motivated and determined to pay off the others.”

This approach is known as the debt snowball method, where you tackle the loans with the smallest balances first. You still keep up the minimum payments on all your loans, but you make extra payments to close out the targeted loan faster.

The debt avalanche method is another approach, which involves focusing on the loans with the highest interest rates first. While this method could save you more on interest overall, you might not get the satisfaction of closing out a loan as quickly. You may consider experimenting with both approaches to see which one is more effective and motivating for you.

Making extra income with side gigs

Wanting to pay off his debt ASAP, Horace searched for ways to increase his income. Along with working his full-time job at a sportswear company, he found side gigs to make extra cash.

“[I was] freelancing, selling unwanted items on apps like Letgo, Amazon and Facebook Marketplace, [and] taking the garbage out for the elderly,” said Horace. “I was determined to pay off my debt, and I took on any gig I could find to make extra money.”

Horace was able to throw extra payments at his loans ranging from just $10 to as high as $6,700. He even paid as much as $7,600 one month. Between his full-time salary, extra income from side gigs, and extremely frugal lifestyle that involved living off half of one paycheck, Horace opted to pay significantly more than was due to get out of debt as fast as possible.

If you have time to drive for Lyft, freelance online or work another side hustle, you could use the extra money you earn to pay down your student loan balance.

Keeping expenses low

Along with increasing his income, Horace also tried to keep his spending down. He didn’t have a TV in his apartment, wore the same few outfits, and “ate pasta with tomato sauce for a year straight.”

“I cut my expenses down so much that I could pay all my bills on half of one paycheck,” said Horace. “I went extremely basic because I really wanted to get rid of my debts.”

It’s tempting to spend more once you start making a salary, but keeping living costs low could help you slash your student loan balance.

If you can keep living like a college student a few years longer, you could move up the timeline on your journey toward a debt-free life.

Finding support online

All this hard work and self-control wasn’t easy, so Horace looked for support along the way. His friends weren’t eager to talk about debt, so instead, he found fellow borrowers online.

“The ‘debt-free journey’ community on Instagram was a huge motivator for me,” said Horace. “Following like-minded people all over the world, facing the same issues, was like having a support system cheering you on and providing tips and tools they used themselves.”

He also started recording himself on Instagram and YouTube to show his progress. The feedback he got motivated him further, while also serving as an accountability system.

After building a presence on social media, Horace kept up his momentum by consulting others on paying off debt and improving their financial literacy.

“Hundreds of people ask me questions today on how I was able to pay it off, and it motivates me to know that I am helping solve a crisis in our community,” said Horace.

Don’t wait to pay off your loans

When asked for his advice to new graduates dealing with student loans, Horace encourages borrowers to think long-term.

“Find a coach, read books and come up with a plan to pay off your debt,” he advised. “It doesn’t have to be as fast as I did, nor do you have to sacrifice everything I did, but be willing to sacrifice something for the freedom and financial stability. Think bigger picture.”

For Horace, that big picture involved returning to school for an MBA in Leadership and Management and growing his business relations consulting agency, Horace Consulting. Plus, his debt payoff had another life-changing light at the end of the tunnel.

“When I paid it off, I celebrated by proposing to my now wife,” said Horace.

Whether you use Horace’s approach, or try other tactics for speedy repayment (such as refinancing to a lower interest rate or accessing LRAPs), know that keeping motivated — as Horace was — can help greatly in getting to the finish line.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
2.75% – 8.90%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

2.50% – 6.80%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.81% – 7.21%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.49% – 7.99%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

3.24% – 7.99%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit NaviRefi

3.24% – 8.24%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

3.53% – 7.24%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

1.74% – 7.99%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Purefy

3.69% – 9.92%8Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Citizens

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. Fixed loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 20 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.47% for a 12-year term would be $94.86. Variable loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 25 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.90% for a 15-year term would be $83.85.

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 October 1, 2022.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $9 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) and changes in the SOFR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%. There is no limit on the amount your interest rate can increase at one time. The Index is currently published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“New York Fed”). If the Index is no longer available, it will be replaced by a replacement Index according to the terms of the promissory note.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of October 31, 2022. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.


3 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 10/26/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 2.81% APR – 7.21%APR Variable APR with AutoPay and 3.99% APR – 10.68 APR% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


4 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 3.99% – 8.74% APR (3.74% – 8.49% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 2.74% APR to 8.24% APR (2.49% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.


5 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 4.24% – 9.24% APR (3.99% – 8.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 3.49% APR to 8.24% APR (3.24% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.


6 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates range from 3.99% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 3.24% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. 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. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.


7 Important Disclosures for Purefy.

Purefy Disclosures

Purefy Student Loan Refinancing Rate and Terms Disclosure: Annual Percentage Rates (APR) ranges and examples are based on information provided to Purefy by lenders participating in Purefy’s rate comparison platform. For student loan refinancing, the participating lenders offer fixed rates ranging from 2.73% – 7.99% APR, and variable rates ranging from 1.74% – 7.99% APR. The maximum variable rate is 25.00%. Your interest rate will be based on the lender’s requirements. In most cases, lenders determine the interest rates based on your credit score, degree type and other credit and financial criteria. Only borrowers with excellent credit and meeting other lender criteria will qualify for the lowest rate available. Rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice. Terms and conditions apply.  


8 Important Disclosures for Citizens.

CitizensBank Disclosures

Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69%-9.92% (3.69%-9.92% APR). Fixed interest rates range from  4.49%-10.11% (4.49%-10.11% APR). 

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 6.39%- 9.60% (6.39% – 9.60% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.58% – 9.79% (6.58% – 9.79% APR).

Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69% – 9.16% (3.69% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.35% (4.49% – 9.35% APR).

Education Refinance Loan for Parents Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69%- 9.09% (3.69%- 9.09% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.28% (4.49% – 9.28% APR).

Medical Residency Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69% – 9.16% (3.69% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.35% (4.49% – 9.35% APR).