The days of paying for college in full, without some type of loan or Federal assistance are long gone. More students are graduating college with more debt than ever before. College costs have increased significantly and the consumer’s ability to pay has only changed slightly. As a result, more students owe money upon graduation.There are a number of pays to pay off your college debt. Fortunately for those who have taken Federal loans, grace periods and deferments can help you until you find a full time job that allows you to begin making payments against your loan. Regardless of your employment situation, the responsibility of loan repayment is yours and yours alone.If you are a recent grad and you’re wondering exactly how you are going to pay off your loans, don’t despair. There are a variety of methods you can use. One of the most popular and effective is student loan consolidation. Using student loan consolidation, you group your loans into a single loan which often reduces your monthly payment amount.Some individuals who consolidate see longer repayment periods. However, a little known method of reducing your payment period is by making one extra payment towards the principle of the loan each and every year. For longer repayment periods, this reduces the amount owed and the life of the loan significantly.You should start by speaking with your lender. Do they penalize you for early repayment? If so, what are the costs? Balance those against the longer repayment cycle and the potentially tens of thousands of dollars you must pay in interest over the life of the loan. More often than not, banks are willing to accept early payment without penalty.By making an extra payment directly towards principle, you are attacking the loan at its source, reducing interest expense over the life of the loan. When you make your payments, be sure to write on the check, “towards principle” only. When I sent my additional check in for the first time, they applied it towards the following month’s payment, not exactly what I had in mind.Once you get things rolling, try to save enough to make a full months payment each December. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a lot of money but it will have a significant impact on your repayment schedule and amount. One suggestion is to speak to a representative at your lender to see what types of accelerated repayment programs they offer. Even though this is a great option, it’s not one that is widely publicized.Paying off your college loans seems like an almost impossible task, but isn’t. Stay focused on making your monthly payments one at a time. Before you know it, you will be way into repayment and can explore other options like making an extra payment towards principle annually. This will save you money and help you eliminate your debt.