One of the most effective ways to manage student loan debt is to make slightly larger monthly payments. This reduces your principal faster and shortens the time it will take you to eliminate your loans. For as little as the cost of a fast food lunch each month, you can shave months off your repayment.

How Payments Are Applied

When making a payment on a federal student loan, funds are applied to interest and fees before anything else. The rest of your payment is applied to the principal, the amount actually borrowed, no matter how much you choose to pay. Since interest is a percentage of your principal each month, the interest you’re changed in future months will shrink along with your principal. That means even very small additions to your payments today can cascade into large savings over time.

How Student Debt Impacts Business

The average 2015 college graduate owes more than $35,000 in student loans. Millennials make up the majority of the workforce today, but also carry the highest student loan debt in history. Approximately 94 percent of respondents in a recent IonTuition survey said that student loan debt creates stress for employees. 81 percent acknowledged that financial stress decreases productivity. Almost 91 percent of millennials polled stated they would welcome a chance to take advantage of student loan payment assistance from their employers if it were offered.

Innovations that Benefit Millennials

Forward-thinking companies are experimenting with new ways to help this generation manage student loan debt. Many are exploring ways to let their employees make student loan payments through payroll deductions for added convenience and reliability. These programs generally allow for, or at least position the company for, additional student loan payment contributions. This is important on a few levels, and not just for the huge reduction in employees’ financial stress.

The recently introduced Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act aims to provide pre-tax benefits for employers who provide student loan assistance. This means that payment matching programs will give companies tax benefits when they choose to contribute funds to employees’ student loan repayment, much like 401(k) matching. Benefit packages designed with recruitment, retention, and morale improvements in mind will need to adapt if they want to stay competitive for Millennial talent.

A Simple Solution to Relieve Financial Stress

Increasing your monthly student loan payment by a few dollars a month, literally the price of a quick meal at a drive through, makes a big enough difference in your repayment to have major effects on your stress level and job performance. If you can afford it, there’s really no downside.

Check out IonTuition’s repayment calculator to explore your repayment options and get a detailed breakdown of how much time and money a small expense now can save you in the years ahead.

Make sure to ask your HR representative about student loan repayment assistance benefits. Chances are good that they’ve been exploring options and you might be surprised by how many companies are already getting started with these programs.