Are you struggling with student loan debts? Four out of 10 young adults between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four have some type of student loan debt. Paying off large student loans is difficult, financially stressful, and confusing. There are many options for you to reduce student loan payments and learn to manage your finances so that you learn to reduce student loan payments every month. Here, to help you out, here’s a look at four ways to get a bigger lump sum payment down on your student debt.

One: Income-Driven Repayment. Repayment of federal loans comes in the form of subsidized and unsubsidized loans. The former are offered by the Department of Education, while the latter come from either banks or private lenders. A borrower can choose to make use of both forms of financial aid, but income-driven repayment seems to be the most popular means of repayment, particularly for those who have families to support and are not yet financially independent.

Two: Forbearance and deferment. Many borrowers who must make repayment months after graduation to apply for and receive deferment privileges. Student loan borrowers with poor credit history may also seek out forbearance privileges. When you are granted one of these privileges, your student loan amount is reduced for a specified period of time – usually about five to ten years.

Three: Payment extension. Another option available for those with poor credit history is the possibility of making larger payments or extending the period of time during which you have to repay your student loan obligations. Most federal loans offer extension provisions; however, you’ll need to check with your agency to find out whether your particular lender offers this option.

Four: Voluntary payment plans. If you don’t want to get trapped in the “subsidy trap,” as many critics call it, you can avail yourself of federal student loans’ Voluntary Plan of Adjustment (VPA). Under this plan, you agree to temporarily reduce your monthly payment until you find a reasonably affordable monthly payment. You can do this by making an effort to earn more money or increase your discretionary income.

Five: Repayment forgiveness. If you have unearned income, such as bonuses or benefits, or if you have been employed at the same job for a long time without receiving a raises, promotions, or other indicators that your employer is considering giving you raise, then you qualify for federal loan forgiveness. To apply for federal forgiveness, you must prove that you are experiencing financial difficulty. Eligibility criteria include having a poverty-level family income, a low annual salary, and not being able to repay your student loan debts in full due to circumstances beyond your control.

Six: Income-driven repayment plan. If you don’t qualify for the Voluntary Plan of Adjustment, you can apply for a standard income-driven repayment plan. Under this plan, you can pay your loans off in two to four years, depending on the amount of loans you have. For example, you can elect to pay your loans in three years if you have a $4000 monthly payment and a ten-year duration for the deferred portion of your loan’s interest. If you have an adjustable-rate loan, you can extend your loan term by up to fifteen years. However, you cannot opt for income-driven repayment plan if you are also carrying loans with a low interest-rate and/or a variable interest rate.

Many students today think that they are too much in debt to make their student loan payments on time every month. But students who are carrying heavy student loan debts after graduation are actually just as financially burdened as people who opted for standard repayment plans. In fact, they might be further in debt than people who opted for a traditional approach in repayment. Hence, income-driven repayment plan is a good way to reduce your student loan payments and consolidate your finances. Just ensure that you do your part and research the federal consolidation loan system well!