Getting rid of student loans isn't easy. The easy answer is to pay more than the minimum in order to get rid of the balance and pay less interest sooner than later. Student loans - if unpaid even for a short time - can severely impact your financial well being. The government has very wide reaching collection rights to pursue student loans. Late fees and collection fees can be additionally burdensom. Student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, so you'll drag that escalating debt forever. So will parents with PLUS loans, if they lose their jobs and cannot pay. Co-signers face the same potential fate. The best strategy is one that keeps you from running afoul of the loan terms, keeps the principal and interests rate down, and potentially (depending on your situation) moves to one of the forgiveness programs available.
To enroll in a student loan forgiveness program you would contact the loan servicer of your loan. The most common loan forgiveness program is the PSLF or Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The PSLF forgives any remaining balance after 120 payments are made on a direct loan by somone in a qualified profession. Qualified employment includes a lot of jobs in service organizations, like teachers in public schools, or people employed by charitable organizations. Here's a link to a list of jobs qualified for PSLF on the Federal Student Aid website https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service#qualifying-employment.
If your loans are state loans, each state has different forgiveness policies and you should check with the state agency that administers your program to determine if you're eligible for forgiveness. Private loans are dependent on the provider as well.
Aside from the PSLF program, there are other types of forgiveness programs for federal loans. Check the Federal Student Aid website for more details. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation
If you have multiple federal loans, you might want to look into a consolidation loan. It will simplify your life by giving you one amount to pay. The interest range will just be an average of all of your interest rates, but you may be able extend the loan (more interest over time) and lower your payment. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/consolidation
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