If you’re between the ages of 25 and 35, chances are, you’re paying off student loans. As you’ve paid your bills, you’ve probably also thought about other ways you could use the money you put towards student loans – like buying a house, saving for retirement or enjoying an all-inclusive vacation. Whatever it is you’re trying to achieve, there are ways to get there faster.

Here are four tips that can help you achieve financial freedom from student loans.

Get organized 

Before you tackle your student loans, make sure you fully understand all the numbers associated with your loan. Get familiar with:

  • Principal
  • Interest rate
  • Loan term

“The principal tells you the total amount of money you borrowed from the lender. The interest rate will tell you the percentage rate charged by the lender and the loan term will tell you how long it will take to pay off the loan,” says Carrie Foran-Sepulveda, manager of education lending at Navy Federal Credit Union. “Every borrower should know these numbers as they directly impact how much you’ll be paying back to the lender and for how long.”

Next, figure out your payoff date. Knowing exactly when you’re expected to pay off your loans will help you determine what you need to do to move that date closer.

Add a little extra

At the very least, you should be making minimum monthly payments on your student loans. But, did you know by adding a little extra to each monthly payment, you can cut your debt faster?

Any more than the minimum may go towards the principal, which in turn, reduces the amount of interest you’d pay over the life of the loan.

This is one of the easiest ways to help pay off your student loans. And, it’s okay to start small. Start with what you can afford, even if it’s just an extra $20, and then gradually work your way up.

Set up automatic payments with the extra funds included. This will help keep you consistent and gives you one less thing to think about.

Consolidate

Student loan consolidation is a great way to make payments more manageable,” says Foran-Sepulveda. “Student loan consolidating means adding all of your loans together and then refinancing with a new interest rate to give you one loan, with one monthly payment.”

Consolidating your loans can be a great way to free up cash, lower your monthly payment and simplify the repayment process.

“If it’s been a few years since college and have good repayment history on things like rent, utilities or a phone bill, you could receive a better interest rate than the one you got when you were in school.”

One, lower monthly payment may sound great may sound ideal to most, but student loan consolidation isn’t right for everyone. If you can handle your monthly payments or only have a few years left on the loan it may not make sense. Your trusted financial institution can help guide you and determine if consolidation is a fit for your financial lifestyle.

A Stash of Cash

Every now and again you may stumble upon some additional cash – be it your birthday, a special holiday or for some, tax season. Instead of spending it on stuff you may not need, think about applying that extra cash towards your loans.

Think that sounds crazy? According to a survey conducted by The Student Loan Report, roughly 69 percent of all student loan borrowers said they would rather receive a student loan payment instead of a gift this past holiday season. That doesn’t mean every penny you get from Grandma has to go towards student loans, but it can be helpful if you’re serious about paying back your student loans sooner rather than later.

Student debt affects 44 million Americans today, which means you’re not alone. When you get organized and make a plan, you can knock them out as soon as you can, without stretching yourself too thin.