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About $1.7 trillion. That is the amount of student loan debt being carried by American college graduates. The average payment nets out to nearly $400 a month. With graduation season in full swing, CheapTickets is helping young travelers make their student loan payments so they can take a much-needed break with its Student Loan Vacation Sweepstakes—where recent graduates can enter for a chance to win a year’s worth of student loan payments.  

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Photo courtesy of Tori Dunlap

For advice and strategies on how to start managing student loan debt while still enjoying life along the way, CheapTickets has teamed up with Millennial money and career expert Tori Dunlap. Dunlap is the founder of Her First $100K, a financial expert, and podcast host with over 1.5 million TikTok followers.  

What are recent  college graduates saying  about their student loan debt? 

I can tell you from personal experience in helping thousands of young people start to build long-term wealth that student loans are a real concern for most grads. The thought of graduating with thousands of dollars in debt can stop them from pursuing things that really bring them joy and passion in life.   

In a recent CheapTickets  survey, we asked college grads two things. The first was what they would invest in if they didn’t have to pay their loans for the year and the second was what they would be willing to give up to graduate debt-free. And the answers to both are revealing.   

If we froze student loan payments today, this generation would invest first and foremost in travel—ahead of things like buying a house or investing in the stock market. And they are willing to forgo some pretty big milestones—like their wedding day—to ditch their debt.  

What tips  would  you give students who ready to graduate about managing this debt?  

My first tip is before we even work to pay off our debt, we need to have an emergency fund first. It should be 3 months’ worth of living expenses in a high-yield savings account. We want to prioritize an emergency fund over everything else because we don’t want to go into further, more costly debt—e.g. credit card debt—if an emergency comes up.  

Secondly, the best way to pay down debt is to make your normal payments, but then send any extra money towards the principal balance. The principal is the original amount of money you took out as a loan, so you want to make sure any extra money you have goes towards paying this down, so you pay less in interest.  

And if you have more than one student loan, contribute that extra money towards the loan with the higher interest rate.  

How is this debt affecting graduates who might want to travel and see the world?  

For many graduates, student loan debt is really stopping them from traveling more. More than 70% of respondents to our survey said their debt has impacted how often they travel. That’s why it’s great to see places like CheapTickets offer resources and even free money to help young travelers figure out how to make travel a reality on a budget.   

Enter the CheapTickets Student Loan Vacation at before the entry period closes on June 6, 2021. For more tips from Tori, tune in as she goes live on Instagram with CheapTickets on Wednesday, June 2, at 2pm CST.  

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Tips & advice

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets editors are a diverse group of writers and bloggers who live and work all over the world and who have a passion for student-friendly budget travel coursing through their veins. Whether it's finding the most Instagrammable yurt in the Coachella Valley or uncovering dirt cheap eats in expensive cities like Tokyo and Paris, our writers take the road less traveled to uncover the world's best deals and destinations.

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