Military personnel continue to have access to some of the best Federal student loan forgiveness benefits, with options for using programs like the incredible Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (which they qualify for as Military Personnel, or Government Employees), or the amazing College Loan Repayment Programs, which offer up to $65,000 in forgiveness to eligible service members.
Finally, where is all the money going? I get that your payments are a lot of money each month, but your husband makes a really good income, and you didn’t say, but with that much debt I would guess you have your masters and earn at least $50k per year. That’s $185,000 per year – after taxes you should still be bringing in $11,500. After his child support you should still be at $10,000 or so per month. A big house, food for all the kids, clothes, etc, maybe costs you $6,000 per month (and that’s being very generous). Where’s the other $4,000 going? Something is not adding up here.
On IBR, your loan balance is forgiven after your repayment term (20 or 25 years). The best thing to do is make the payment you can afford. If you’re on IBR, and your payment is $0, you likely don’t have much income. If you can make extra payments, great – but don’t compromise other financial goals/issues to make extra payments (i.e. don’t get behind on car payments, go into credit card debt, etc.).
Robert I really appreciate what you are doing here. This student loan thing is so complicated. I am the parent of a grad-student who graduated in May with a degree in film (screenwriting) we co-signed on his private loans ($130k) and he still doesn’t have permanent/full time work. We have spoken to the loan provider and they want us to repay the loans since our son can’t yet. I don’t know how many of these options are available for private loans. Right now they want $1100 per month, which we can’t pay and neither can our son. We should never have co-signed because now its going to affect our credit and his. What are out options? Thanks
For details on how this program works, you definitely need to visit my page on the Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program, but because the system is so complicated, and can take so long to get an approval or denial response, this is one situation where I recommend that EVERYONE hires a student loan expert for assistance in preparing the application.

Like other forms of debt, you can refinance a student loan (both private student loans and federal student loans are eligible for refinancing). With most lenders, you start with a rate estimate, which doesn’t require a hard credit inquiry. When comparing rates from different lenders, be sure to pay attention to additional key differences, such as fees, before making a final decision (Earnest has no fees, for what it’s worth).
There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.
Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.46% APR to 5.98% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.05% APR to 5.98% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.05% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.05% minus 0.15% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
I strongly encourage you to do the same. At $100k, you likely take home about $6k-7k per month (this is after taxes, insurance, 401k, etc). If you switched to the standard repayment plan for your loans, your monthly payment would be around $3k per month. You’d be debt free in 10 years. At the same time, that gives you $3k to $4k in discretionary income to live off of – still very reasonable. Maybe you need a roommate, maybe you need a used car? I don’t know the answers on your personal “sacrifices”, but I am telling you your student loan debt will catch up with you one way or another.
I’ve been working for a non-profit for 4.5 years, and am on IBR, and have made 47 payments (full, on-time, etc….in other words, “qualifying payments.”) I have certified my employment. About half my loans ($25k) are through FedLoans, and the other half are through Navient. I’m on IBR for both. Navient told me they “don’t handle PSLF.” FedLoans told me I need to move my loans to them, by contacting Navient and asking them to transfer them to FedLoans. I did, and Navient told me they couldn’t transfer them, and that I should consider consolidation. It looks like if I consolidate, I’ll lose credit for the payments I’ve made!
On the one hand, I can see that I have agreed to work in public service for at least 10 years, making no less than 120 qualifying payments, and my loan payments are adjusted according to my income. So, I can see that this might be seen as a service obligation. On the other hand, I am not limited by FedLoan to work in a specific geographic location (major metropolitan area or rural area), for a specific company (state government, non-profit mental health agency, etc.), or for a specific time frame.
Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply. Borrowers whose loans were funded prior to reaching the age of majority may not be eligible for co-signer release. Note: co-signer release is not available on the Student Loan for Parents or Education Refinance Loan for Parents.
Thank you. The article you referenced states that the AGI is minus personal exemptions and itemized deductions…which is wrong. “Adjusted Gross Income is calculated before the itemized or standard deductions” from a tax website. I WISH it was after exemptions and itemized deductions as that is a huge, huge difference in the AGI…but it’s not. My payment is supposed to be $400 based on my husbands income alone and their is no way we can do that now…none. If find SOME job to make that $400, the payment will just go UP…which is crazy. It’s like you cannot win. It seems to make no sense for me to work at all….which is wrong. Filing separately seems to be a choice, but we have a daughter in college and would lose the education deductions, etc. This whole thing is crazy if it makes more financial sense for me to not work at all! Or I guess he could file injured spouse year after year, but I just don’t understand why they won’t just consider MY income. Sorry for venting, just frustrated.
I have an associate in nursing with student loans from a school that promised accreditation and never got it, so they changed the name and got accredited then. Whats frustrating to me is there are only limited places I am able to work for so many years due to them not being accredited. I have to pay these loans back, and I’m wondering what is the best option to do.

I just read that the government is investigating ITT Tech just like they did last year to another for-profit college crackdown which caused Corinthian Colleges to close. In the event that these investigations would end in the school closing their campuses, does that mean my student loans get discharged as well? I graduated in 2005. Or that only applies to recent graduates and current students?
Should she be eligable for a possible $0 monthly payment with no income even though we file jointly, or does the fact that we are married mean my income has to contribute to her ability to pay? This is where it has been unclear to me. Can she report her income on the IBR paperwork as $0 even though she’s filed on my tax return as joint? If that is the case completely agree that with no income she should qualify for a $0 payment but I was under the impression that I had to use our tax return AGI for both our IBR forms.
Rates and offers current as October 1, 2019. Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 3.48% APR to 6.03% APR and Variable Rate range from 2.67% APR to 7.41%. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.This credit union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

The money I was making wasn’t very much and I put the student loans under an IBR with a payment of $0 per month. My original loans were all subsidized but because I consolidated them around 1993 (there was some law that came into effect right afterward to protect borrowers who had subsidized loans) they still accrue interest. My current balance is over $53,000.
My navient and nelnet government student loans are both in hardship deferments. If I consolidate these two student loans when my deferments end in june, this month, 2019, and July next month 2019, will this new consolidated student loan qualify for ibr and the 20 and 25-year undergrad and grad student loan forgiveness? My student loan debt exceeds my own income at this time so much that my monthly payment will be set at $0. However, I filed a joint return with my husband this year, so if I go on ibr this year, my monthly payment will not be $0 but based on both my husband’s (primary income) and mine ($12,000 per year). Our debts are such that we cannot afford the ibr payments based on our joint income tax filing for this year. If I fail to make any payments on either student loan once my deferments end this month, in June and next month in July, until the new 2020 tax year, so in Feb and March 2020, can I then just file separately and qualify for the ibr $0 monthly payment? I just wonder (am terrified) of what will happen in the 7-month period when I’m not making any payments; should I let my student loan lenders know my situation? If I miss 7 payments, so not yet defaulting, will i still qualify for ibr after these missed payments? Thank you for your help; I sometimes want to jump off a bridge when I see that terrifying student loan debt total.
I have my payments deferred at the moment as I have not been able to work, due to caring for my daughter with special needs. My husband is the only one working. The loans are in my name only. My/our question is this; If I can find a way to bring in ANY income at all, won’t it just make my payment go even higher? Because doesn’t every plan include my husband’s earnings?? My husband says it makes no sense to do that-try and find SOMETHING to earn because we will be out more money in the end-due to them always using his income. Are we missing something?

Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).

However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
I’ve been making about $200 payments on my combined 2 private loans and $0 payments on my Direct/Stafford loans under the Income Driven Repayment plan for about 5 years now. Every year I have to send my information to renew the plan before I’m charged $500+ a month. So I’m a bit confused about how after the payment plan ends the loan will be forgiven. Am I missing some fine print somewhere?
First let me say thank you for this article and all the helpful advice. Originally I owed a little over 40k when I graduated back in 1998. I got some deferments and then I went into default. Govt takes my tax return and applies it to my loan repayment. Twice I tried to make arrangements to pay…first time I was told to “wait it out until I get a good offer to pay pennies on the dollar” the second time I was told that I needed to make a payment that I just couldn’t afford… I offered $100 a month until i had better cashflow and the guy laughed at me and told me that would be worthless.
Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).
Hi! Just a few days ago I got an offer about consolidating my student loans. I go through Navient and they said that I qualify for student loan forgiveness. However, it was not Navient offering this to me. They said they were Student Services based out of Newport Beach, California. However, they said I would need to pay $245 to start the consolidation fee and pay another $97 for the next 3 months before my payments would drop down to $75 a month.
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I’ve been making about $200 payments on my combined 2 private loans and $0 payments on my Direct/Stafford loans under the Income Driven Repayment plan for about 5 years now. Every year I have to send my information to renew the plan before I’m charged $500+ a month. So I’m a bit confused about how after the payment plan ends the loan will be forgiven. Am I missing some fine print somewhere?

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.45% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.05% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.49% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 11, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Along with your credit score and annual income, some lenders also look at your savings and debt-to-income ratio. Finally, some lenders require proof of graduation, as they’ll only approve borrowers who have obtained their degree. If you left school before graduating, there are relatively few student loan refinance providers that will work with you.
Many lenders offer student loan refinancing, from traditional banks, to credit unions to online lenders. Before choosing one, shop around and compare your offers. Several lenders make it easy to get an instant rate quote online with no impact on your credit score. By checking your rates with a variety of providers, you can find a refinanced student loan with the best possible terms.
Fixed rate options consist of a range from 3.75% per year to 5.80% per year for a 5-year term, 4.25% per year to 6.25% per year for a 7-year term, 4.55% per year to 6.65% per year for a 10-year term, 4.85% per year to 7.05% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.30% per year to 7.27% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. The fixed interest rate will apply until the loan is paid in full (whether before or after default, and whether before or after the scheduled maturity date of the loan). The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.75% per year to 5.80% per year for a 5-year term would be from $183.04 to $192.40. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.25% per year to 6.25% per year for a 7-year term would be from $137.84 to $147.29. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.55% per year to 6.65% per year for a 10-year term would be from $103.88 to $114.31. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.85% per year to 7.05% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.30 to $90.16. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.30% per year to 7.27% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.66 to $79.16.
I would just like to acknowledge your continued support and communication to the people who come to this site in search of answers – sometimes desperate, usually in despair, or incredibly stressed how to unearth the mountain of debt they’re under (including myself). I see this long thread of messages and I am astounded by your commitment to help nearly everyone that shares their story. So, short story long, THANK YOU for your work in bringing people direction, comfort, and help when they have no where else to turn. Even if you don’t receive much thanks, you are very much appreciated.
My 120 qualifying payments could take me 20+ years to eventually make if I let it. With the NHSC program, the requirements are much more specific, rural area, two year commitment, etc. I am interested in potentially applying for the NHSC program as well. I know that the two programs work differently and I am wondering if you know whether or not they could be used simultaneously? Are you aware of whether or not this has this been done before?
I strongly encourage you to do the same. At $100k, you likely take home about $6k-7k per month (this is after taxes, insurance, 401k, etc). If you switched to the standard repayment plan for your loans, your monthly payment would be around $3k per month. You’d be debt free in 10 years. At the same time, that gives you $3k to $4k in discretionary income to live off of – still very reasonable. Maybe you need a roommate, maybe you need a used car? I don’t know the answers on your personal “sacrifices”, but I am telling you your student loan debt will catch up with you one way or another.
Hello Robert, so i have set up a income based repayment plan. The lowest payment for me to make is 600 a month and with my other debts and private student loans i can not afford this amount. I want to make payments but this is just way to much. They said this is based on income and that it is my only option. How can i pay a lesser amount with out being penalized? I am a school counselor.
Tim, thanks for doing what you do here. Any word on changes to the PSLF program, in lieu of the proposed $57K cap? I’m in the IBR program, working for a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and have been making qualifying payments for approximately six years – and I’m terrified that changes to the PSLF program will affect me. All my loans are federal. Also, I’ve been told by my loan servicer in the past that I don’t do anything “now” for PSLF, that I wait until closer to the end of the 10 years. Any insight into that?
For details on how this program works, you definitely need to visit my page on the Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program, but because the system is so complicated, and can take so long to get an approval or denial response, this is one situation where I recommend that EVERYONE hires a student loan expert for assistance in preparing the application.
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