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?
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.

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I would recommend you call the for-profit company called the Student Loan Relief Helpline. Please do note that this is not a free service, and it’s not a Government Service, but a profit-driven organization that helps people reduce their monthly payments and find out how to qualify for loan forgiveness benefits. You can reach them here: 1-888-694-8235.
Loyalty Discount Disclosure:The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.

Student loan forgiveness for nurses. Nurses shouldering student debt have several options for student loan forgiveness: Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Perkins loan cancellation, and the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program, which pays up to 85% of qualified nurses’ unpaid college debt. Public Service Loan Forgiveness may be the most likely option for most nurses — few borrowers have Perkins loans, and the NURSE Corps program is highly competitive.

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