What happens to student loans if you move abroad? Does it magically disappear? WE WISH! Graduating with student loans is all the rage nowadays (seriously). While it might not seem like the wisest choice to pack up and go on an international adventure right at this moment, you’d actually be surprised by the ways that teaching abroad can be a strong financial choice. In fact, paying off student loans while teaching abroad isn’t just easy—a lot of people do it. You can absolutely teach English abroad and never miss a repayment.

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Since teaching abroad + loan forgiveness don’t often go hand in hand, keep reading to learn eight strategies to help you with paying off student loans while teaching abroad.

Paying Off Student Loans While Teaching Abroad: 8 Tips

1. Know your numbers

Figure out exactly what student loans you have and who is servicing them. How much do you owe, minimum, monthly? How much do you owe in general? What is your goal repayment in a year?

Get real about your numbers so you can better understand your earning prospects and spending allowance abroad.

2. Defer or pay off?

If you prefer to defer your loan payments, you can apply for a deferral before heading abroad to teach. In this option, you’ll determine a set amount of time with your lender where you won’t accrue interest and you won’t be making any payments. This path won’t negatively affect your credit rating or ability to score loans in the future.

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If you can’t get a full-on deferral, forbearance is still an option. In this pathway, you can stop making payments, but you’ll still accrue interest.

You’ll need to talk with your lender to see if any of the above options are available to you, or if you need to plan to make regular payments on your debt while teaching English abroad.

3. If you opt to pay them off, have a plan

You won’t just magically land abroad and immediately get a paycheck. You’ll have some start-up costs you need to budget for, not to mention need to work a few weeks before you get that first kickback.

It’s essential that you sit down in advance of moving to figure out a plan for paying off student loans while teaching abroad. Calculate expected expenses and income and how you’ll account for pay gaps. Taking the time to make a plan will be one of your best investments!

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4. Different regions have different pay grades

If you want to teach abroad with college debt, we highly recommend that you consider destinations with a low cost of living where you can earn the big bucks. Consider countries in Asia to really capitalize on your earning potential (Vietnam, China, and Thailand will all serve your bottom line well). Oftentimes, programs will include perks like accommodations, free airport transfers, value-adds like language classes, and more. If you’re ultra-strategic in your destination considerations, you can easily find a place with a strong teaching English market at a relatively affordable cost to you.

Avoid teaching English abroad in countries in Latin America, Africa, and Europe unless you are the master of budget living.

5. Autopay, baby!

Set it and forget it (and decrease your chances of getting in trouble for forgetting your payment!). The beauty of autopay is that the money removes itself from your account before you even begin daydreaming of all the fabulous ways to spend it. 

Pro tip: If your English teaching earnings are being deposited in an international bank account or PayPal, be sure to link your checking accounts with your domestic bank or wherever the automated debits will be withdrawn from.

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6. Get your hustle on

One tried-and-true strategy for English teachers abroad is to capitalize on the varied #sidehustle opportunities available abroad. You can fill your free time with additional tutoring hours (your one-to-one teaching rates can be quite good!) or by teaching English online. These part-time gigs can be a great way to supplement your income and pay off your student debt while teaching abroad.

7. Live life like a local

It can be tempting to continue your Starbucks habit or splurge on pizza every week, but if you truly adopt the mindset of a local, your budget will thank you. Shaving off unnecessary expenditures can add up quickly, allowing extensive cushioning to your student debt payments.

It’s basically prolonging your student lifestyle… but with a super cool, ultra-cultured international twist!

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8. Pay more than the minimum

With your extra moolah from side hustles and your commitment to ball on a budget abroad, you should have some extra money lying around. We generally recommend spending this extra cash a little irresponsibly (you’re abroad; this is fun!), but why not also pay more than the minimum required on your student loan debt, too?

You now know how to pay student loans abroad!

Can you move to another country with student debt? Absolutely. Should you? Probably. Provided you follow our above advice on paying off student loans while teaching abroad, you’ll be well on your way to a debt-free life of adventure, meaning, and service!