4 Things You Need to Know About Repaying Your Student Loans

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When it comes to repaying your federal student loans, there’s a lot to consider. But, by taking the time to understand the details of repayment, you can save yourself time and money. This should help you get started.

When do I begin repaying my federal student loans?

You don’t have to begin repaying most federal student loans until after you leave college or drop below half-time enrollment. Many federal student loans have a grace period. The grace period is a set period of time after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment before you must begin repaying your loan. The grace period gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment plan. Note that for most loans, interest will accrue during your grace period.

Your loan servicer or lender will provide you with a loan repayment schedule that states when your first payment is due, the number and frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment.

Whom do I pay?

The U.S. Department of Education uses several loan servicers to handle the billing and other services on federal student loans. Your loan servicer will work with you to choose a repayment plan and will assist you with other tasks related to your federal student loans. It is important to maintain contact with your loan servicer and keep your servicer informed of any changes to your address, e-mail, or phone number.

How much do I need to pay?

Your bill will tell you how much to pay. Your payment (usually made monthly) depends on

    • the type of loan you received,
    • how much money you borrowed,
    • the interest rate on your loan, and
    • the repayment plan you choose.

You can use our repayment estimator to estimate your monthly payments under different repayment plans to determine which option is right for you. Just remember, if you would like to switch repayment plans, then you must contact your loan servicer.

What should I do if I’m having trouble making my student loan payments?

Contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. You may be able to change your repayment plan to one that will allow you to have a longer repayment period or to one that is based on your income. Also, ask your loan servicer about your options for a deferment or forbearance or loan consolidation.

Still have questions?

If you need assistance with your federal student loan, it is best to contact your loan servicer. They can help you choose or change your repayment plan, and learn about other options to make your monthly payments more affordable. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact your loan servicer.


  1. Ok…tip for anyone willing to put forth a little bit of work, for a lot in return. Several states allow for free college tuition if you are a member of the Air National Guard, Oklahoma is one for example. Sign up for an initial 3 years, go do your 8 week basic training, then just one weekend a month (16 hours) and then two weeks in the summer (all the while, getting paid for your time) and you can get all your tuition paid. What a deal! Guess what…there are a lot of jobs in the Air Force that don’t send you to Afghanistan, so don’t worry. Only particular jobs tend to deploy…many do not or are so rare that it is not even a concern. I’ve been in for 22 years and only deployed once and I volunteered for that one. So do your first three years and then extend for a year and your 4 year degree is all paid. Or, sign up for a second three years and get a 4 yr and then a Masters, while earning a bit on the side. Best decision I ever made!

    • I’m glad that worked out well for you. Unfortunately, if you attend the University of Tennessee, prepare to be shafted monthly by the VA reps there in Knoxville.
      My daughter is an 8 year Guard member who served almost a year in Afghanistan. Her experiences have been highly frustrating and costly.
      Over the past year and a half, the UT VA reps have delayed filing claims then claimed to have lost paperwork, resulting in months of waiting and not being paid; they have given her wrong information, then blamed her for their mistakes.
      They are openly arrogant, inconsiderate, uncaring and unprofessional in all the dealings she has had with them.
      On one occasion, they sent out an email to their client service members telling them they should let their creditors and landlord know that they would not be receiving their checks this month because they “forgot” to file everyone’s paperwork.
      They have a lot of staff, but no one ever seems to be available to answer questions; if you can find someone to talk to, they don’t know anything and will tell you to contact the VA directly.
      This past semester, the VA sent their payment to UT for my daughter’s classes. She had already paid for that semester because the UT VA reps fouled up her paperwork and didn’t file on time. Instead of applying the credit to the next semester, the reps reported it to the VA as an overpayment, then sent it back. She can’t get it returned from the VA and no one at UT will admit to doing it let alone accept responsibility. She would have been unenrolled from her classes that she needs for her degree – I had to loan her $1700 – she would only have owed $600 if the VA workers there cared enough to do their jobs properly.
      It’s a good deal if you are at a school that honors the service and sacrifice that members make. If not, you’re screwed and there’s no one in this administration that cares.
      I served 6 years in the Guard and AF Reserves so I know how frustrating the bureaucracy can be but this is beyond incompetence.
      Oh, and it doesn’t matter what your home of record is, at UT, if you’re getting money from the VA, you pay out of state rates no matter how long you’ve lived there.
      Good luck.

  2. Three things in our lives exceed the rate of inflation year by year.
    1) Cost of gas
    2) Cost of medical care
    3) Cost of College

    As an analogy, why does the prices of electronics keep decreasing as more efficiencies are found, whereas the price of a hospital stay is like $4000-5000. per day.
    Colleges have more yearly increases than most other businesses because they keep raising salaries for these so-called professors who don’t really teach and just show up. There is no accountability in a College for bad teachers, even your local school board can hold bad teachers more accountable than a college ever will. Considering how much money students are paying they deserve the best teachers. I can highly recommend going to Community College. The Professors are more personable, and engaged with the students, plus it is more economical.

    • WRONG!

      The primary reason tuition has gone up is due to reduction is state funding of so-called “public” universities!

      From this article: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/when-state-universities-lose-state-support/?_r=0 see the comment below:

      “The percentage of total spending at state universities provided by state tax revenue has been sinking for more than 20 years. As Jim Duderstadt, former president of the University of Michigan put it, ‘We used to be state-supported, then state-assisted, and now we are state-located.’ ”

      The great majority of the top-ranked state colleges/universities receive less than 20% of their revenue from the state. Faculty at these institutions have not received raises in years, and the few that have received modest amounts (e.g., 1-3%) – not enough to keep up with inflation.

      Finally, at top public research universities, faculty are required to spend at least 50% of our time conducting cutting-edge research. That’s what helped the institutions achieve their rankings. So if I’m not in my office or in the classroom, I’m probably in my lab – – – as I’m supposed to be.

      Teaching institutions don’t require research of their faculty – so they may be more visible in the classroom. Yes, JuCos are teaching institutions.

      I suggest to learn more about different types of institutions and their respective missions, and consequently the different demands of faculty before you bash us.

      • ““The percentage of total spending at state universities provided by state tax revenue has been sinking for more than 20 years. As Jim Duderstadt, former president of the University of Michigan put it, ‘We used to be state-supported, then state-assisted, and now we are state-located.’ ”

        Have you ever considered the fact that “state funding as a percentage of total revenue” is directly linked to what the university chooses to charge for tuition? Using your own logic, Sir, said funding as a percentage of total would RISE if the cost of tuition was reduced. Simple third-grade math skills would bring one to that conclusion.

        I suggest you take a look at the real world outside the walls of your insualry world of academia and gain a more realistic perspective before making condecending remarks about the rest of us.

        • Your point about the percentage makes sense if college costs are rising and the state contribution remains the same, but I can say that in the two states where I’ve been at public universities in the last decade have seen the state’s contribution to the public university system decrease in nominal value by 45 and 70% respectively. If you factor in inflation-adjusted real value, it’s an even bigger drop.

      • Anything to do with education is sacrosanct. That’s because of teacher’s attitude of self-righteousness. The teachers use their desks and pulpits to indoctrinate students using the full force of the grading system to compel agreement. They are for the most part self-seeking unionized greed mongers who spend their days figuring out ways to feather their own beds and line their own pockets. That’s why the American public education system could readily be compared with the re-educations camps in the Soviet Gulags. Poor teachers, poor teachers they cry. No greater concentration of greed and lust can be found outside your local crack house.

    • I wouldn’t solely pin the blame on the professors. I don’t know where you went to school and found that ax to grind, but most professors are very good and dedicated teachers. There are a few bad apples, but that is not the norm. Professors ARE held accountable. I’ve seen tenure denied due to bad teaching. And most college instructors now are adjunct, and just don’t get hired for the next semester if they do a bad job. The increase in professors’ compensation is lagging far behind the increase in tuition, and most of that compensation increase is health insurance costs, not salary. I know of many departments mired in hiring freezes and have teachers working overload to cover required classes, or departments that have shifted to low-paid adjuncts or Ph.D. students to teach classes, because they can’t hire tenure-track professors.

      I’ve taught a 4-credit college class, and there is a lot more than to just “show up”. Between preparing lectures, actual lecture, office hours, writing exams, grading exams, writing labs, supervising TA’s it’s about a 30-hr/wk commitment the first time teaching a particular class, maybe shrinking to 20-hr/wk after the first time around. What looks like a short contact time of a few hours per class, is just the tip of the iceberg. A typical teaching load of 7-10 credit hours for a teacher easily adds up to full time work, not to mention the mentoring, committee, and research duties on top of that.

      From what I’ve seen, most of the increase in college costs is not due to professors salaries, but due to the other perks for students on campus. Sadly, most students choose their college based on non-academic factors. As long as the academics are good enough, and really decide based on campus life. So now colleges and universities compete for students by building the best dining halls, dorms, and recreation facilities. At my university they have been cutting professors and overall academic costs like crazy (shortened the semester by a week), but are constantly building and renovating dorms, cafeterias and workout facilities that are quite luxurious for a college experience. On top of that, there have been few cuts to administration. I think only the health care industry has universities beat when it comes to massive administrative costs.

      • Best comment so far. I have seen an article stating just that and thought it made the most sense. Professors don’t make that much money (not hard for anyone check online and check this) given the amount of effort they’ve put in to get their PhDs or the importance of the research they produce. It’s an underpaid profession that makes many people not wat to pursue it. College tuition is as you said: the result of superficial factors that students base their choice of college on.

  3. Education was affordable until the invention of the student loan. Student loans will ruin many lives in the future.

    • Then why take them out? Work your way through or go to a community college instead of these lliberal stacked and overpriced universities.

    • The student loans themselves aren’t ruining lives- only those who make poor decisions with them are causing problems. The student who majors in something without immediate job opportunities or a career plan at private institution costing $50k/yr, and funds it entirely with loans is taking a big risk. A student going to a public university costing $15k/yr, majoring in something like nursing, science, engineering, etc., with higher job placement and starting pay prospects, is much better off taking the student loan route versus going to school part-time for 10 years while working a menial job.

  4. I need some advice about student loans im in debt up to eyeballs with these loans…..i have been in out of work because of sickness and surgerys and the loans are now at 50,000 and i can’t get the company to work with me and they want 7,000 down payment but im out of work again. What can i do so they won’t take money out of my check when i go back to work????? Help!!!!!!!!!

      • Probably private they have no understanding of real life. Loss of jobs while in school ( remarks made about working through college) none about illness. You don’t make the money to pay tuition, you can’t go to next semester, you can’t go next semester they call the loan. Just went through it with my daughter. I consigned and they have already sent me a if she doesn’t pay you will or lein will be put on me. Haven’t even gotten letter to start payment schedule yet.

    • If you are in and out of work a lot due to the sickness etc. they will not be able to keep up with taking our money, outside of when you file your tax returns, where they will eventually catch up with you and get whatever refund you had coming. As long as it’s paying off your debt, get the biggest return possible

    • You are in the same position a lot of young people are today. When our granddaughter began her education, she was so smart she did not need the advice of her parents or grandparents. Or so she thought. We tried to advise her but she blew us off. She graduated $40,000 in debt. When she did come to us for help, we did not give her money, but advice. She contacted the company, set up a lower payment schedule and got a part time job along with her full time teaching position. We also set up a budget with her that we sit down together each month to go over it. She is gradually paying bills and as each one is paid, she adds that money to the student loans. Because she is in education, she will be able to ask forgiveness on these loans after a period of time.
      She has to work every weekend and that means giving up her beloved social life that she cherished so much in college. Contact the companies and tell them what you can pay and do it. Remember they can’t get blood out of a turnip (if you know what I mean).

      • I’m in a similar situation where my loans will be forgiven after 10 years. If the minimum payment is met, it makes no sense for me (not necessarily others) to make additional payments on my student loans. Anything extra is put into savings or used on other debts. If, after 10 years, my student loans are forgiven, then I basically lose any extra amount I paid into the loan.

        I’ll note that I do not take this perspective with either my mortgage or car payments. I figured out which payment will be finished first then make extra payments on that debt. When it is paid off the amount going to that bill is applied to the next shortest bill in sequence. Assuming all goes well, the my loans (including the mortgage) will be paid off in 11 years.

  5. Get a job, go to school part time and pay for your own school, even if it means getting your degree in 10-15 years.
    better to start your life late than to start early and with debt

    • The disparity between earning with a degree and earning without one is too sharp for that advice to make even cursory sense, particularly given that the cost of higher education varies widely. Life’s expenses continue whether someone is in school or not, and earning $10 an hour, taking these expenses into account, will not likely ever result in sufficient savings to complete a degree.

  6. Parent’s must educate their children about how to pay for college and also there are thousands of dollars in scholarship money out there. It takes time, work, lots of writing and submitting. In my college program as an adult , a classmate financed his bachelor’s degree with scholarships. He had a family to support, he gave himself a year to research, submit applications. The end result several scholarships to fund the bachelor degree, school supplies and a little bit of money left over. He earned his degree with no debt at the end. The Peterson’s Guide to Scholarships is a great resource.
    I started my college education in my 30’s as a single parent raising two special needs daughters. It was a challenge and yes I took out student loans. I wish I had more education on these loans, I had to take a number of deferments and forbearances. I have a total of 50,000 in loans that began in the early 90’s, the sad part is I don’t qualify for the public service or teacher forgiveness programs because the requirements for those programs didn’t begin until after 98 all my loans were prior to that. I pay 300.00 a month on the loans which is 3 different private loans and a federal loan. I have consistently paid on these loans for the past 10 years. I am a teacher in special education, I work 4 part time jobs and rent out the extra room in my home all the extra money is divided on the principal of my home/car/student loan. The rest is in savings/my Roth. I am determine to be debt free in 11 years.

    • Have you looked into consolidation? Usually means lower monthly payments and possibly a break on the interest…

  7. Higher Education in this country for the past 20-25 years has become a total rip-off and a joke. The amount of money Americans have to pay just for a worthless piece of paper is absurd. Student loans for thousands of dollars are just handed out like candy to a bunch of 1st graders. This is such a conspiracy. If you are currently paying on a student loan that you make minimum payment on…you will for the rest of your life will have a balance to pay, regardless if you owe $1000 or $100,000. And if/when you die, they go after immediate family members. For those of you who co-signed for someone; that was a major mistake!

    • It saddens me to hear you call higher education a “rip off”. Education is a priceless thing that no one can take away from you unless you give it away. There are people all over the world who yearn to learn how to read or even attend school of any kind. We are most fortunate to have such a thing as “student loans.” Education is a tool for you to use. Sounds like you are letting it use you. Gratitude will get you farther than griping.

      • Marcia, if you read my blog thoroughly, you will probably understand better where I’m coming from. If you really want to talk about gratitude, try talking to our government and the so-called political leaders…even a bigger joke. If I/we didn’t gripe, then we will only be suppressing our true feelings… A lot of people are not as fortunate as you…learn to hear others and maybe you’ll learn from other people’s real life experiences and not all the technicalities taught in a college classroom. Please note, I said for the past 20 – 25 years, the system has become corrupt, which usually leads to a form of ripping off consumers, putting them in extreme debt, which I truly believe is a conspiracy…My opinion!

      • Thanks for the reminders about how no one can take your education away, how gratitude is much more positive and dynamic that griping. I will focus on that much more. What a wonderful thought to meditate on and apply. Thanks again.

      • I dont believe she is stating that education is a rip-off. Education has it’s own intrinsic value. It does not require classrooms or teachers (although these things help). The original point is that fees are drastically high and since most have become more business than a place of higher learning, that diplomas are rarely even earned. The level of knowledge/learning is lowered in order to keep their customers (students/parents) happy regardless of the long-term educational outcome. Your snarky comment regarding gratitude only shows how little you know of the situation. People are dumping tons of money into a useless investment (bc with the internet you can learn all/more than you could at any institution) that may not produce a return (as in gainful employment) and shackle you to debt.

      • No. Our young people are a natural resource, like say water. And like water, we cannot survive without them. Their education is our responsibility. Student loans that are impossible to pay back were not something to be thankful for. It’s a disgrace.
        If education is made freely available to serious and capable students, we all benefit. If education it’s available only to the wealthy, we all lose.

      • Most countries in Europe agree that education is the great equalizer among population sects, Marcia, so they offer colleges that their citizens can attend for free. I’m middle-aged now, working for a non-profit agency, bringing home just under $19,500 after taxes. I’ll lose $2K more of that again this year to taxes. Once my basic living expenses are covered, I don’t have enough left for anything more than thrift-store clothing and shoes. This also means I can’t afford anything really frivolous like coloring my grey hair at $75/pop, or getting regular manicures so my hands appear soft and lovely – and professional. I will never look sharp enough to win a job against candidates who did not earn a Dean’s List spot every semester from studying hard while working 50 hours a week. Instead, I lose at interviews to those who headed to bars or parties with their friends instead of taking the education thing seriously, and they had the luxury of doing that while Mommy and Daddy paid for them to barely squeak through college.

        So Marcia, please don’t make assumptions about people being so blessedly educated until you know what you’re dealing with. I would never recommend that anyone go to college unless they had wealthy parents.

    • “A worthless piece of paper?” I don’t think so. I am totally grateful for my degrees and the wonderful jobs that I received due to these “worthless pieces of paper.” People with degrees typically receive better, higher paying jobs than those without degrees. I was able to pay my student loans off within 3 years and will never regret having to take out student loans to help pay for my education.

    • Students MUST use common sense, and NOT major in liberal arts areas or in rare, specialties, unless they intend, and can afford, to go after a Master’s degree, or in some cases, a PH.D.

      College has got to be seen as a job preparation area, not just a “finding yourself” fun place for 4-6 yrs (the average student now graduates in 5 or 6 yrs, not the traditional 4. This of course, increases the student loans he/she has to repay later).

      • You are correct, of course. Gainful employment is becoming much, much more difficult to find and maintain for graduates with only liberal arts degrees and those with less job-specific skill sets.

        Having said that, my nephew went to a top University to become an actuary, which was one of the highest paying and most marketable and sought after skills just 7-8 years ago. Unfortunately, he graduated in the teeth of the 2009 recession and wasn’t able to find work in that field since. He applied for hundreds of jobs and was lucky to (only recently) get a low paying bank teller job. It’s better than nothing, and he will have to struggle and persevere and find new opportunities when they eventually arise…but it’s not his fault. He did things “right” and was responsible but got caught up in a situation out of his control and unforseeable.

        May God bless all the hardworking and well educated young folks who found themselves in similar situations and are now at a loss as for what to do about repaying student loans and no jobs. They are just victims of difficult economic times and it can happend to any of us at any time.

    • Taking out a student loan was the biggest mistake of my life I tell all my friends with kids do NOT TAKE OUT A STUDENT LOAN as they do not care how bad things for you . What really gripes me how many countries that the USA gives money too and some of them do not even like us .But there is no help for some one who can not afford to repay there loan

  8. I am in dire straits. I went back to school at a late age and got a music degree. I worked for one of the lowest paying schools in the state and used the forebearance approach while I was trying to figure out a way to begin repayment. I then lost my position due to a Reduction in force and went to anothere bordering state and began again. I worked 2 years and again lost a position due to RIF. I am now working for a school that involves 155 mile a day travel and 10 grand less money than my last position which was a very low salary. I want to have some repayment options but I have probably exhausted all my delays and at this point, I am having difficulty making ends meet. There are commercials on radio about groups that can make this problem lessen for an individual. Are they legitiment or a sham. Anyone out there that can help answer this will be greatly appreciated.

    • there are no organizations to help , you can check out on dept. of ed/ loan forgiveness programs in public service and teacher forgiveness . Speak to the to the loan agency who handles your loans for a payment plan or go to Direct loan for a consolidation loan. A music degree is not the best to have can you add an endorsement to your license?

    • If you’re working as a teacher, you are probably eligible for income based repayment, where repayment is capped at 10% of your takehome pay, with any balance discharged after 10 years (for public employees) or 20 (for those working in the private sector.)

      • The vast majority of people qualify for IBR, though I believe that the standard discharge is 25 years versus 10 for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Also, the 25-year discharge is a taxable event, whereas PSLF is not.

    • You should try to think outside the box, what else CAN you use your degree for other than teaching music? Especially now that most public schools have dropped music, art, pe, etc from their curriculums.

      As a four yr college graduate you CAN teach other classes, as I imagine you know. You can get a temporary certificate to do this, then work on getting the rest of the qualifications under your belt. (They do give you time to do this….I know because my son did this for a few yrs).

      Meanwhile, if you don’t want to be a teacher, it would give you time and an income to look around at what else you can do……Good luck.

    • Don’t go through one of those places you see in commercials. They will only charge you more money. Contact your lender directly and explain your situation. There is an income based repayment option that works on a sliding scale dependent upon your income. You can also see your own history and available options at NSLDS.ed.gov. Good luck.

  9. I have had a student loan that started out at $2,300. that was in april of 1988. I have paid out over $6,000 in tax leins,penaltys and late fees, and as of today I still owe $1,600. and have been told that I still have to pay the rest. no forgiveness, no settlement. I feel that I have paid this debt. how come we can forgive country’s and company’s for past debt of millions and the DOE can’t forgive $1,600.

    • Student loans are extended on generous terms on the basis that education is a public good. The money that you owe back is to all taxpayers, yourself included, and it is not going to be “forgiven” on the basis of what you “feel.”

    • Ed that has been my question for years we not only forgive millions but even billions in debt to other countries but is seams that there is no way to get a student loan forgave
      But then again can any one tell me of any government program that works the way it was susposed

  10. I have had student loans since the early 90’s. I am now 46, unemployed, and because of a divorce and financial difficulties since then, I have never been able to pay consecutively over a 10 year period. Therefore, Obama’s plan, opts me out of this program. I have had my tax returns taken from me (federal) 3x, when I was counting on the money. At the time, I had no idea this would happen. I contacted my lender, and they put me on an Income Contingent Plan. Therefore, if I am not working, they put me on deferment and told me they would no longer take my taxes. Pretty ironic, considering I have NO income, thus NO TAX RETURN FOR ME RIGHT NOW. If I did, mark my words, they would do it again, and again. and again. Right now, I am up to $48,000; the loan was originally for less than $20K. I am wondering, if once I retire, can the US Govt., take from my SSI to pay for these loans? Like I mentioned above…$20K has turned into $48K over the course of 10 years, and growing. Unless I win the lottery, there will be no way I will be able to pay for these Pyramid schemes by the Federal Government, in terms of interest. I was stupid, I suppose, when signing these documents. If they are going to take my tax returns (once I find a job), and humiliate me through my employer, they will contact my future employer and garnish my wages. Most likely, I would wind up with very little in terms of a paycheck. So, I ask…why work? I have a degree, but if a huge amount of my salary and taxes garnished…what is the point…to wind up bringing home a few hundred dollars per week. Our systems is completely screwed up. Unlike other countries, who want their people to be educated in order to be more advanced, most do not have to take out LOANS in order to become educated. Again, if anyone knows…will my SSI be taken from me (for the years I worked) once I am at retirement age and can no longer work? If so, it sounds like people my age will wind up broke, with no supplementary income in our retirement years. As if things are not hard enough, these days. I fear I will wind up with nothing at my age of being able to collect my Social Security (which I will need) when I am older. It all just sucks, truly. I am not the only one in this sinking boat. My loans are old, and even though I am in deferment due to job loss, the interest just keeps on accruing.

    • It is my understanding that if your student loans are not paid, you SS will be attached by the Feds. When student loans were from private institutions, it was not a problem. But, since the federal govt took over the program, they can attach everything, tax returns, SS, house, pensions, etc. So much for BIG govt….we all loose..

      • Repayment of Federal student loan in default includes garnishment of wages, tax refunds, and Social Security income. That is true whether the Federal loans were issued by banks under FFEL or through the Ford (Direct) program, because the public is funding the loans in both cases. All that FFEL did was pay banks fees to issue loans for which they held no risk.

    • Yes, they will attach your SS. I am totally and permanently disabled, and they have taken 15% of my SS-D for years plus my (joint) tax refunds. I took out $10,000 in the ’80s, paid on it for more than 20 yrs, and yet owe $15,000 and change. Thank God I was able to get my loan forgiven in July. Now if they would just stop garnishing my SS-D . . .How long does it take for one hand to show the other what it’s doing?!?

  11. The loans are a total rip off. Our country should be concerned for those who seek to be valuable human assets to our nation. The loans should all be financed at 3% for those who can show they completed degrees.

  12. More companies are hiring liberal arts majors than technical majors…they can teach you the technical stuff on the job…they can’t teach you integrated learning and problem solving skills so the woman that said no to major in philosophy, english or history needs to STFU. I only hire liberal arts major as they know HOW to think–not WHAT to think.

    The Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness program forgives balances after ten years of payment for people working/volunteering for government and non-profits. Payments are based on income. In the PSSLF program, if your income is low, you will have a balance to be forgiven after ten years of minimum payments.

    • your payments have to be on time and current to qualify for this program and the teacher forgiveness program.

    • I’m afraid you’re working from information that’s 25 years out of date. Being articulate is not nearly as important as it once was. People have come to accept bad grammar and spelling as normal. If companies were worried about communication, they wouldn’t be outsourcing their phone banks to countries where American accents cannot be understood by the employees. In a down economy, they look for people that they don’t have to train for any jobs. Most companies aren’t usually going to take an English major and make him a middle manager, because he can’t answer the engineering or business questions of the people around him, and, with unemployment as high as it is, companies just hold out for somebody who already has the qualifications they’re looking for. Very few companies are willing to spend money on training. Training employees gives the employee an asset they can take with them. Companies would rather pay for hard assets that they can possess physically and that have resale value. Employees are a dime a dozen. We live in an awful time. The pendulum has swung back too far to the right. Employees aren’t considered assets to be explotied (let alone maintained and upgraded) anymore. They are merely expenses to be reduced.

    • I agree with you that a liberal arts major knows how to think, but I assume you mean in your other statement that education in how to think is better because you can learn what to think on the job. Thank you for your thoughtful and encouraging post.

      • Liberal arts education is incorporated into virtually all majors now, even things like engineering and nursing. That being the case, it is no surprise that the dedicated liberal-arts major finds him or herself hard-pressed to find a job.

  13. Parents need to #1: Make sure their kids understand that whatever they are majoring in had better have a payoff. Philosophy, art majors, English majors, not so much anymore. Don’t agree to co-sign your life away for a useless major. #2: The money spent is an investment in THEIR future. THEY should pay back the loans unless the parents are very well off and can afford to be that generous.
    This article REALLY washes over how brutal student loans are. These people never give up harassing you, no matter what your situation. These loans almost never go away.

    • i totally agree with this. in the off-chance anything happens that causes any of these federal loans to go into default, they will wreak havoc on the credit of everyone involved and the debt collection agencies contract by the dept. of education are awful to deal with. it is nearly impossible to resolve any of these issues in the co-signor/parent’s lifetime as well as the student’s. depending on the cost of your education – and major (if there is not a return on educational investment) – there is a good chance your kids may be paying off these loans after you die.

    • Diane, You are totally correct that before you take out a student loan or enroll in a University you should think carefully about what you want to get a degree in. If a person is bright enough to get into a good University then they should be smart enough to know that a liberal arts major, a music major, etc. are probably not the way to go. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what you will probably make once employed and to decide if your earnings will be enough to pay off you student loans.

  14. I read an article about student loans and it said that if you worked in a government job you may be forgiven part of the loan. Does working for the gov. mean a job like for the county?

    • Public Service Loan Forgiveness applies to a wide variety of public-service positions, including any work for Federal, state, or local government; military service; and employment with an eligible private non-profit organization. Some of the key criteria are that payments be made during the time of employment (forgiveness is based on 120 payments) and that employment be full-time for the majority of the year. (That last point can be problematic; for instance, a military reservist who spends six months on Active Duty every year would never qualify, because the six payments made would not constitute a sufficient time out of each year to be public service.)

  15. something positive here!!…when my daughter was in college, i took out plus loans totaling $25,000…repaying was a struggle in the first few years…i went through a devorce, which strapped me with additional debt…i kept chipping away at it…after my truck was paid off, two years ago, i doubled my loan payments…the interest on the loans went down, considerably…within six months, i will be paying off the loan entirely…that’s FIVE YEARS ahead of schedule…i’m feeling pretty good about myself…and my daughter also shows her appreciation; through love and financial help…i’m trully glad i did this for her.

    • In my opinion once she graduated and had a job it should have been TOTALLY her responsibility. My husband and I paid off our student loans, as did our two sons and other relatives. It CAN be done.

  16. I am on social security disability and while not life threatening I will never be able to work to my full potential again. Can I get my loans discharged or do I have to continue, forever, with the income contingent plan and yearly updates?

    • I am posting because I am truly in the same situation, however I have settled my while I am disabled. Just like you, my Social Security Income for Disability may not be “life threatening”, it sure has taken away my full potential as a wage earner. I can no longer work at all. There is no way I can work a full time or even a part time job without feeling as if I will die. I say my disability is not life threatening, but I have “Addisons Disease, which was not even found until after I had won my disability for Autoimmune Disease that plague me.

      My very first Disability check the government took a substantial amount from my disability check and I was truly put in a hardship. I had just received my disability award and was unemployed of course, and they hit me hard. I was newly divorced, unable to work and had 4 kids and a grandchild to support. The Government does not care your situation and to some degree I completely understand this. I mean, they did help me earn my degree to an extent. However, I was working at a full time career that funded most of my college program and it was paid while I was actively working and enrolled. I earned my degrees as planned but was not really ever in the situation to use my education and had to stop my college coursework due to being downsized with the company that had the benefit of college reimbursement.
      After all of that I became so ill I could not even get out of bed to see a doctor much less go to a full time job that had nothing to do with my unfinished student education and earned degrees.

      Now, back to your questions. After realizing my money was taken from my very first ssdi check to pay on my student loans I called and questioned my ability of filing for a forbearance and the person on the line was very thoughtful and extremely helpful. Before the phone call was finished it was all wrapped up without too many personal questions.

      I am now in forbearance. Now keep in mind, this is my personal experience and you may want to inquire with your attorney if you do have one, personally, I do not think you need one. I mean, they have certain guidelines they must follow and mine should really be no different than yours since yours sounds kind of the same. Just call them and explain your situation.

      The reality of the matter is this: You pay a lot of money for an education that will carry you into a career of your choice per your degree of education you pay for. The reason you pay after graduation with a grace period on top of that is to settle yourself into a steady income related to the very eduaction you were receiving and requested these grants and loans for to begin with. Now, for example, I am unable to even finish my education due to illness. I am unable to work due to illness. The amount of income on SSDI is minimal at the least, not what you would make if you were able to persue your dreams of utilizing the education you have received and were driven to obtain.

      The Government is very aware of this hardship and they WILL work with you. My loans have been on hold and will stay that way as long as I am disabled and unable to reach my full earning capacity. This was three years ago and it remains in good standing today. They will not intercede your IRS refunds and they do not report it to the 3 credit bureaus. Now on the other hand, I owe over 11,000 on grants and loans from the Government and only $4,000 owed to the University I earned my degrees. The Government has forgiven my loans while disabled but the University has applied my dilinquecy to all three credit bureaus. This is really not a fair issue either in my opinion, but I complain none since I have been granted so much understanding to begin with. I could never live with them taking a big chunk of money for which I nowhere make to begin with. I know I owe this money, I just wish I could utilize my degrees. The University will not even release my transcripts of issue me my diplomas or degrees for all the hard work I put into my education for a few years until I pay them. These degrees were earned and earned with a standing 4.0 grade average. I was unlucky to be struck with Muscular Sclerosis, Addison’s Disease, Hashimoto’s AutoImmune Disease, which was all progressing while working and attending college.

      Do what you have to do. But make that phone call!

      This is just my story and my opinions. Every one is different and their circumstances their own. Please know you may have different results than mine, but I am almost sure you will see some relief if you make a few phone calls and request assistance on the behalf you are disabled and are unable to fullfill your dreams of pursuing a career you went to school for.

      Sincerely hope you find relief,

      • Interest continues to capitalize during periods of forbearance and also when ICR payments are too low to cover what is accrued. It is true that student loan debt is discharged by death, but only after it has made claims against whatever estate remains.

  17. NEVER REPAY a student loan! Why? Remember the Congressman that was Director a few years ago and took his family on a “all expenses paid vacation” using Student Loan Funds? That Congressman was NEVER brought up on charges and the monies he stole never repaid. If you cannot find a job related to your degree do not repay. Entire system is a fraud! Above all NEVER Co-Sign a loan!

    • Except that if you take a loan out, whether it be government or private and you do NOT make payments on the loan, then it drops your credit drastically (ever heard of collections? default? deliquency?). This will, in turn, have a huge effect on whether or not you will be able to obtain a car loan, credit card, even a home mortgage in the future.

      Maybe the government should provide PROPER credit responsibility courses for those looking to take loans out. If a borrower(s) attends these courses, they receive incentives, such as lower interest rates, or the ability to defer one payment a year. Just an idea, rather than just blurting out “DON’T PAY YOUR LOANS BECAUSE ITS FRAUD”. That is just EXACERBATING the problem.

      Also, can you provide proof of your opinion stated above? What senator took his family on vacation via student loan funds? Why didn’t they prosecute him. WHY is the system fraud? At least make a valid argument backed by proof of your claims.

      • Assuming that the Senator in question received the funds by way of borrowing them for eligible classes, and directed some portion of what was allocated for living expenses (which are included in financial aid calculations) to the costs of the vacation, there is nothing remotely odd about this, any more than that someone who was living off-campus would use the living-expense money to add a premium cable channel.

        Federal student loans are among the most generous credit terms that have ever existed. Were it not for a change made during the Bush administration that established fixed interest rates, current market rates under the old formula would presently be below 1%. I have Dot-Com era loans that I consolidated in 2002 — traditionally, student loans floated, while consolidation rates were fixed by averaging the current rates payable on the loans that created them — and locked in rates around 2%. The “fixed rate” scam was just that, a way to guarantee high rates of return while pretending that 6.8% interest was reasonable.

    • Uh….what about the fact that they WILL “come after” you for the loan repayment money? Do you want your credit destroyed?

      • It depends on why one isn’t repaying a loan. It is, for instance, perfectly feasible to remain half-time enrolled in ongoing degree programs for the rest of one’s life, in which case the loans will be deferred forever.

  18. I will have been a slave of the U.S. Department of Education for 10 years in 2014. College Professor who had hours cut, taxes increased. This is the price I must pay for the price of my master’s degree. It’s too bad, that the children of congress persons don’t have to pay their loans back. Wow billionaires getting a free educational ride while I’m saddled with loans that could go towards my retirement. 🙁

  19. My wife’s student loans were consolidated by the Dept. Of Education. The loans accumulated interest and she currently owes over $300,000. They are requiring a minimal payment so each month the amount owed grows by about $1,000. She is on the program where your payments are income based. She is a doctor doing her residency. She plans when she finishes her residency in a year and a half to take a further sub-specialty fellowship. Only then will she make substantial income, probably over $300,000 a year gross. Only then will she make payments that will shrink her debt. By then she will have been in the loan forgiveness plan 5 1/2 years. She will be working for a nonprofit hospital for the balance of the 10 years. Will she have to repay the full loan and interest amount or will she be finished making payments after 10 years?

    • Fred –

      Your wife’s loan will be forgiven after 120 consecutive payments (10 years obviously) while working in a public service capacity. The definition of public service is very broad, but to be on the safe side, you should get a confirmation that your wife’s current employer (and more importantly, the future employer) constitutes a public service for purposes of the loan forgiveness program. If both qualify, at the 120th payment, be sure to contact the dept. of education for the forgiveness.

    • She could consider, if possible, joining the military. MANY doctors that I have known as an R.N. work for the military in order to get “forgiveness” of their student loans. They usually just work for 4-6 yrs in the military system, and are paid for their time (though not at the level of a private, or civilian, doctor).

    • Public Service Loan Forgiveness occurs after 120 total eligible payments. To document eligible payments, have your wife’s hospital administrator complete this form: http://studentaid.ed.gov/sites/default/files/public-service-employment-certification-form.pdf

      Have these forms completed annually (just for the sake of convenience) and submit them as directed. When she submits the first such form, her loans will be transferred to the servicer that oversees Public Service Loan Forgiveness so that her file can be established.

      Be aware that she must still be in a non-profit position at the time that the forgiveness is approved, not only when she makes her 120th eligible payment; wait for official notice of forgiveness before celebrating!

      All outstanding principle and interest at the time of forgiveness is dismissed, and the amount forgiven under PSLF is NOT taxable.

  20. Since my Daughter graduated her student loans that I co-signed for where transferred from the US Dept. of Education to Sally Mae.
    They have been great to deal with. Anytime I have a question or a problem they have helped me work though it. All of her loans have been put into 1 monthly payment that I can afford.
    There are several careers and company’s out there that will pay off your student loans if you go to work for them. Fortunately my oldest daughter who is a nurse was able to get a job at a hospital where if she agreed to stay on there for a minimum of 3 years they would pay off her loans completely. Which she has done. And is still there.
    As for the daughter who’s loans I am paying for now she and her husband have agreed to start chipping in whatever they can each month. And have agreed to take over the payment completely in the next couple of years. They to date have not missed once kicking in what they can. They know that when I can retire is directly connected to when they will take over the loan.
    So to you parents and grandparents if you child is working and making a decent living let them know that you need them to start to contribute to get the loans paid off. That means no new fancy car or high dollar house or going out with there friends all the time. If they cant start to help paying off the loans first.

    • I’m one of the unlucky ones too, have two degrees, paralegal degree and undergrad in law, my job now is editing documents and making copies, and doing whatever else grunt work that is thrown at me. To add insult to injury, some of my “bosses” have less experience and education than me. My credit is shot and have over $50K in student loans.

  21. I signed for my daughter-in-law’s student loan. Is there any way for me to be forgiven and get the loan off of my credit report? I am now retired.

    • Lucy, I’m pretty sure you’re stuck with the loan. I’m 63 and am re-paying a parent loan I took out for my son. Even filing for bankruptcy won’t ensure a college loan will be discharged.

    • Nope Lucy. Its no different then co-signing for any other type of loan. If the person you signed for doesn’t pay then your going to have to. And it will be on your credit report for a long time.

    • You could have her refinance the loan in her own name, if she can qualify. After I graduated college, I refinanced (my private loans) in my own name so that my parents were no longer on the hook/co-signers. Some companies will let you refinance without a co-signer (like mine) and some will let you drop the co-signer after x on-time payments (usually a year or two).

  22. I can’t afford to pay my loans. Still paying but I make too much for forbearance or deferment. Am willing to do anything to lessen the pain. Any ideas.

    • Johnny,
      You can ask for a re-structure or do a consolidation loan to change the payment structure. A re-structure can move a 10 yr loan to a 25 yr loan with a lower amount payment.

      • Here’s a fifth thing you should know about student loans. If you choose to consolidate the loans, there will be one month where you don’t make a payment while the consolidation is processed. Under the consolidation, most of your new payment goes to the interest. So if you skip just that one payment, it will take you almost a year to start making payments on the principle again. My advice is to make two payments the first month. And make extra payments whenever you can. I feel like I took on a payday loan by mistake!

    • Johnny: If you are willing to do *anything*, you can join the Army (if you are less than the max age threshold, which I believe is 42). That will take care of it.

    • My son worked as a teacher in low income area schools for several yrs after college graduation. This got many of his loans “forgiven”. He is now working in IT.

      If you have a four year degree, in any subject, you CAN work as a teacher, w/ a temporary permit. You are given time to get the other requirements, which is not hard.

      My son taught in Middle Schools, so wasn’t in the kind of situation he would have been in an low income area high school. Just a suggestion. Good luck.

  23. I was hurt in an accident and unable to pay my loans for over 15 years, my interest has made 40,000 into 90,000 and no degree. they are not in default but in deferment is there anyway to get that interest reduced? I will never be able to pay that off at the rate its going and that is not what I want to happen. There has to be a way for help

    • It is possible to have them completely cleared out but you have to prove you are completely unable to ever pay the balance. If you are permanently injured and unable to take a job that would enable you to make payments, you may want to look into this option.


    • I’m in the same boat, for different reasons. I began taking out Parent loans for my children in 1997. I borrowed a total of around $40,000. At one point I had 3 kids in school at the same time (I am divorced with moderate earning capacity). Although the loan went into repayment immediately, my principal balance is now over $50,000 due to periods of time when either I was in school and they were in a student deferment, or I was not getting child support and they were in a hardship forbearance. This is totally ridiculous; I have paid back the principal on this loan several times, but the interest that compounded during those hardship times spiraled it into way more than I borrowed in the first place. I feel like I am the victim of a pyramid scheme. I will be retiring next year, and my income will be cut in half. My monthly payments are over $300 (all going to interest, of course) and there’s no way I will be able to afford them in retirement.

      • Hi Mary,

        Check into the income base program that was created. If it is not a private loan, you should be able to get in on of the programs that is offered for repayment. They go by your income and adjust the payment accordingly. They do not care about your cost of living though so just a heads up on that one. I am currently paying mines back and for the most part over the years .. and i do mean years I accumulating more than 50,000 in interest. I’m like wow this is crazy now that is not including the money i borrowed which by the time I finished school I had borrowed the limit. I did get my masters degree so it is what is it. Good Luck to you and everyone.

      • Hmmm. heres an idea how about the kids that have the degrees with an income pay back loans that were for THEIR education. an example of giving your kids too much and spoiling them…..

  24. I serve in the National Guard- is their a way to help defray the cost of parent plus student loans? What other methods are available to help repay/cancel/forgive parent plus student loans? I am willing to teach at low income schools. volunteer my time at agencies that require professional help.

  25. I have tried to contact a human voice to inquire about a Plus loan that I co-signed for my granddaughters but to no avail–very frustrating experience. I just have a few questions about these but cannot sign in to find out anything. I want to know if these loans can be paid off in full and without a penalty. Would someone be so kind as to call me or e-mail me with this information. I also have more questions that require some answers. Laurie

    • There’s never a penalty to pay off loans in full in advance of a due date. Your grand-daughter is very lucky to have you!

      • Actually, Nicole, there is a penalty if you pay off your student loans less than three years after your acquire the loan. It isn’t tremendously huge, but there is a penalty.

    • Please be aware that an undergraduate PLUS loan is a loan taken out by the parent or guardian; it is not a loan for which you “co-signed” but rather is YOUR loan, for which your granddaughters bear no legal responsibility.

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