Optometry school is expensive. The average yearly tuition to attend one of the United States’ 23 optometry schools—not counting fees, living expenses, and other costs—is $36,000. This is just for in-state tuition, too: for out-of-state students, optometry school can cost up to $70,000 per year.
So it’s no surprise that optometry students graduate with substantial student loan debt. 2019 grads reported an average $173,000 worth of student loan debt. In our 2019 Optometrist Report, 22.7% of respondents had paid off their student loan debt; on average, it took these ODs 11 years to pay off their debt entirely.
So what’s the best way to go about paying off six figures of student loans? Why, using our handy student loan repayment calculator, of course!
How to pay off student loans fast
If you’re looking to pay off your student loans fast, you’re probably debating whether to use the Avalanche or the Snowball method of paying off those loans. If you’re not sure what these are, here’s a quick primer:
The Avalanche Method
The “avalanche” method prioritizes paying off loans with the highest interest rate first. This type of payment plan results in less interest rate incurred over time, but doesn’t offer quite as much psychological fulfillment that comes from closing individual loans.
The Snowball Method
The “snowball” method prioritizes paying off loans with the lowest balance first. This type of payment plan results in individual loans getting paid off more quickly, but can increase the amount of interest incurred over time.
Which one should I use?
It truly depends on your situation and the type of loans you have. Our calculator will show you the amount of interest paid and the time it will take to pay off your loans with your planned monthly payments, but it’s up to you to decide which payment plan you should choose.
That said, for the amount of student loan debt held by most optometrists, it’s likely that the avalanche method will result in less time paying back loans, and save you money in paying interest. But make sure to experiment with the calculator to see how this will work for your specific situation!
How long does it take to pay off student loans?
The amount of time it takes to pay off student loans truly depends on the amount of money you’re willing to put towards those loans each month. Don’t think you can just make the minimum monthly payments and pay off your debt in a timely manner—this will just result in paying more in interest!
This is where a monthly budget comes in. Decide how much you can put towards paying off your student loan debt each month. Budgeting more than the minimum monthly payment will allow you to decide on a type of payment plan (see the avalanche vs. snowball methods outlined above), and allocate the extra funds to a given loan accordingly.
By setting up a payment plan and sticking with it, you could be out of debt by the time you’re ready to buy a home or open a practice! (Not that student loan debt inhibits opening a practice: in fact, practice owners not only have student loan debt, but they’re paying it off faster!)
There are so many options for paying off your student loans, and the sooner you do so the sooner you can rest easy, knowing you’re free of debt. Take the first step and jumpstart your payment plan with our tool!
Compare student loan refinancing rates 💰
Did you know that the average optometry student graduates with $173,000 of student loan debt? Paying off that debt requires smart budgeting and a lot of discipline. Many of the ODs in our community have also chosen to refinance their loans to lower the interest rates and/or reduce monthly payments. If you're looking to refinance, we heartily recommend that you check out Credible. In a nutshell, Credible is a free service that lets you compare prequalified student loan refinancing rates from up to 10 lenders without affecting your credit score. Click here to compare rates
Supercharge Your Career with Our Handy Calculators
- Average Optometrist Salary Calculator—See how your pay stacks up.
- Optometry Student Debt Calculator—Pay off your loans faster with this easy-to-use calculator.
- Student Loan & Investment Spreadsheets—Download these custom financial planning tools.
- Personal Cash Flow Statement—Get on top of your finances with this custom spreadsheet.