I always recommend an income-based repayment plan if you need it. It just makes the most sense. And borrowers shouldn’t worry about the election – if anything changes, history tells us that it will just impact future borrowers, not existing ones. Each new payment plan, forgiveness program, etc. typically isn’t retro-active, but rather only impacts loans that originate in this year.
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program (TLF) is a form of student loan forgiveness that is separate from the Direct Loan or Obama Student Loan Forgiveness program. This program awards educators with a principal reduction of their federal loans. It was designed to encourage students to enter the education field and to incentivize teachers to continue teaching.
I make about 35k (my wife also makes about 38k — my wife and I file married but separate taxes — we have 3 kids.) I feel lost. I don’t know how I got so deep or how this got so out of control. Any help is appreciated. Do you think I qualify for these repayment programs? Which would be best for such an old defaulted loan? Is there a place (other than the collection agency) that can help guide me? Again I sincerely appreciate your article and advice.

I am not in default. My loans are subsidized and unsubsidized loans. I have a recent print out of my credit report and other than naming Nelnet as my holder and labeled as a subsidized/unsubsidized loan I don’t know what “kind” they are. From my recollection, and from what I can tell on my report, they are federal loans. My primary loans were for $21,000 and $23,000. My current balance is about $64,000 from my last online statement from Nelnet. I did notice that my interest is now at 3.5%. That was a happy surprise, however, I still owe that extra 50% of what I borrowed. Additionally, Nelnet recently decided on their own to put me on a forbearance. I never asked for that! I called and was told they could not stop the forbearance and I could simply continue to pay. I was stunned to say the least.
I’ve read as many of the above comments as I could in order to avoid a repeat question, but couldn’t find any that directly addressed my situation. I’m scared to contact Direct Loans (all of my considerable undergrad and grad student loans are Federal loans), because I’ve been in default for so long. Just before I completed my Ph.D., two things happened. One: I became a mother with very bad post-partum depression, and Two: I had a nervous breakdown because my graduate advisor stole my work and sabotaged my ethnographic field study due to sheer incompetence. I didn’t fight any of it (see above references to total physical and emotional breakdowns), but instead focused on keeping myself and my children alive and in gradually improving health. It really was a survival situation. My husband has been our sole provider since I left graduate school (ABD), and I have not been employed outside the home since then. I have, however, homeschooled both of our children diligently and well, as well as run a small organic farm on one income. His income is barely enough for us to do this. It is certainly not enough for us to pay 15% of our income to loans, and so I am also exploring ways to use my education for income so that I can pay off loans. Like…write a bestseller. Yeah. (It’s actually not a total pipe dream. I do have one 600 page novel nearly finished, and it’s pretty damned good.) So my question is this: since none of my debt was incurred while married, and since I have not been employed since 2003, and since I DO very much want to repay my debt, but it pretty much seems completely hopeless, what can I do? What’s the best way to go forward here?

Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.
Forgiveness isn’t an option for defaulted loans. You’ll need to use consolidation or rehabilitation to get defaulted federal student loans in good standing before they’re eligible for forgiveness programs. If your loans won’t qualify for forgiveness, student loan settlement or bankruptcy may reduce your debt in severe cases. Defaulted federal loans are eligible for discharge programs.
1Laurel Road: Laurel Road Bank is a Connecticut banking corporation offering products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Laurel Road has helped thousands of professionals with graduate and undergraduate degrees across the country to refinance and consolidate over $3 billion in federal and private school loans, saving these borrowers thousands of dollars each. Lending services provided by Laurel Road Bank, Member FDIC. APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 4/05/2019. Rates subject to change. Fixed rate options consist of a range from 3.50% per year to 5.55% per year for a 5-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.00% per year for a 7-year term, 4.30% per year to 6.40% per year for a 10-year term, 4.60% per year to 6.80% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.05% per year to 7.02% 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. However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed 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. Variable rate options consist of a range from 2.25% per year to 6.05% per year for a 5-year term, 3.75% per year to 6.10% per year for a 7-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.15% per year for a 10-year term, 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 15-year term, or 4.50% per year to 6.65% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.25% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 1.50% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 1.75% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.00% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.25% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 2.75% per year to 6.30% per year for a 5-year term would be from $178.58 to $194.73. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.00% per year to 6.35% per year for a 7-year term would be from $136.69 to $147.77. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 10-year term would be from $102.44 to $113.04. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.50% per year to 6.65% per year for a 15-year term would be from $76.50 to $87.94. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.75% per year to 6.90% per year for a 20-year term would be from $64.62 to $76.93. 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’m grateful I found this page via Pinterest but I’m also angry I didn’t know it before. I’ve been deferring my $40000 consolidation loans for 8 years because I could never afford even the minimum payment. My current balance is now $63000. If I understand correctly, I could’ve been on IBR for 8 years now, probably with a payment of $0 since my income is usually right at poverty level?? I had checked into this before on Sallie Mae/Navient’s website, but it always said that the minimum payment is $208 for IBR (even with an income of $17k 2 person family)…I had no clue I had to go to a separate website (Studentloans.gov) to get a different answer. So frustrating that SM/Navient seems to NOT want people to know this information. I feel like I could’ve been 8 years closer to forgiveness.


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.
What kind of consolidation did you do, and what were your loans (all Federal? all Private? a mix of both?). The Loan Forgiveness Program that everyone is looking at is only for Federally-funded student loans, and currently, does not offer benefits for any loans that were taken out before October 2007, so until that eligibility rule is officially changed, you won’t be able to take advantage of the program.
Perkins loan cancellation. Borrowers with federal Perkins loans can have up to 100% of their loans canceled if they work in a public service job for five years. In many cases, approved borrowers will see a percentage of their loans discharged incrementally for each year worked. The Perkins loan teacher benefit is for teachers who work full time in a low-income public school or who teach qualifying subjects, such as special education, math, science or a foreign language.
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