Roughly 12 years after finishing his degree, Dietrich Knauth has, at last, paid for it. In the days leading up to turning 34 last month, he paid off the last of his almost $117,000 in student loans.
Finally polishing off those loans felt like a birthday gift to himself, he says: "It is incredibly freeing to think about moving forward without this weight around my neck."
This was the year he was determined to get it done, so he paid roughly $16,000 toward his debt in 2018 alone, picking up freelancing gigs to bring in extra money in addition to working his day job as a financial reporter.
The standard repayment plan for federal student loans assumes borrowers will be done in 10 years, but 60 percent of those with student loans expect to pay off their loans in their 40s, according to a survey from Citizens Financial Group. So Knauth is ahead of many of his peers.
Here's how he made it happen.