How to Pay Off $150,000+ in Student Loans
Tackling large amounts of student debt can be intimidating. This article helps break down ways that you can pay off your student loan debt.
With the cost of college on the rise, and many students choosing to go on to graduate school, it’s becoming increasingly common for some students to have $150,000 in student loan debt.
If you have $150k in student loan debt, trying to figure out how to pay it off can feel like a daunting task. And, while it can be difficult to tackle that amount of student loan debt, there are some strategies you can use to pay down your debt over time.
Here are a few ideas for paying off $150,000 in student loan debt.
5 strategies for paying off $150k in student loan debt
Each of these strategies can help you reduce how much you owe and pay down your debt faster. Additionally, some of these student loan debt repayment ideas can be used together to help you save money on interest.
1. Refinance your student loans
Best for: Those with a lot of private student loan debt and good credit.
One way to start paying down that $150,000 in student loans is to refinance your debt. When you refinance student loans, you have the potential to get a lower interest rate and pay off your debt faster. Plus, if you can get a lower monthly payment, it can improve your overall cash flow.
An organization like Juno is designed to help you get lower rates on student loan refinancing. Consider joining Juno to see what deals you can get on your loans.
It’s important to be careful about refinancing, however. If you refinance federal student loans, you lose access to certain benefits and programs. Consider consolidating your federal loans together and refinancing your private loans, depending on what works best for your situation.
Finally, realize that you need good credit to qualify for student loan refinancing. If you don’t have good credit, refinancing may be harder to accomplish.
2. Get a cosigner
Best for: Borrowers who can’t qualify for refinancing on their own.
Maybe you feel like refinancing is your best move, but you don’t qualify. In that case, a cosigner might be able to help you tackle your $150k student loan debt. A creditworthy cosigner can help you get qualified. However, it’s important to uphold your side of the obligation since you could put your cosigner’s credit at risk if you miss payments.
If you have a plan to pay off your student loans, and you just need a little help qualifying, getting a cosigner can provide you with a way to get rid of debt faster.
3. Apply for student loan forgiveness programs
Best for: Non-profit and government employees who have high federal student loan balances.
Student loan forgiveness programs can help you get rid of your $150,000 student loan debt by paying off part (or even all) of your balance. This allows you to reduce your debt without making the payments yourself.
There are different student loan forgiveness programs offered by the federal government, including:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness. As long as you work for a qualifying employer and make 120 qualifying payments during that time, you can have your remaining federal student loan balance forgiven at the end of 10 years.
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness. If you’re willing to work in high-need areas for a set period of time, a portion of your loans can be forgiven.
- Healthcare Professional Loan Forgiveness. Likewise, if you work in healthcare in an area where there’s a shortage, you could potentially have some of your loan balance forgiven.
In addition to federal programs, there are also state programs. With the right planning, you could reduce the amount you owe, even if you have more than $150,000 in student loans.
4. Income-driven repayment
Best for: Those who can’t afford the monthly federal loan payments on the standard repayment plan.
Those who have a high federal loan balance might be able to take advantage of income-driven repayment. There are four different plans, and they are based on your income and what you can afford to pay. On top of reducing your monthly federal student loan payments, income-driven repayment comes with a loan forgiveness benefit. Depending on the plan you’re using, you can have any remaining balance forgiven after either 20 or 25 years.
Income-driven repayment can work well with Public Service Loan Forgiveness and other federal forgiveness plans. You get on income-driven repayment while you’re fulfilling your service requirements, managing your cash flow, and then receive forgiveness after you finish your term.
5. Use the debt avalanche
Best for: High-income borrowers who can make bigger payments and want to get out of debt faster.
If you have $150k in student loan debt, but you make too much to qualify for some of the federal programs, or you’re in a career that doesn’t qualify, you can set up your own plan to tackle your loans.
The debt avalanche is a strategy that starts by having you list out your debts, ordering them based on interest rate. Next, you figure out how much extra you can put toward debt reduction. Keep paying the minimum on all your debts. However, you choose the first debt on your list — the one with the highest interest rate — to receive the “bonus” debt reduction payment on top of the minimum.
Once that debt is paid off, you take the entire amount you’ve been putting toward that loan and add it to the minimum payment of your next debt. As you move along, your payments get bigger and you accelerate your debt payoff. This strategy can work well in conjunction with partial federal loan forgiveness and private student loan refinancing.
While it can be hard to figure out how to pay off $150k in student loan debt, there are ways you can move forward. Consider different strategies based on your situation, the amount of private and federal student loan debt you have. Look at different ways to combine strategies so that you get rid of your debt faster and save money on interest.
Miranda has 10+ years of experience covering financial markets for various online and offline publications, including contributions to Marketwatch, NPR, Forbes, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, and The Hill. She is the co-host of the Money Tree Investing podcast and she has a Master of Arts in Journalism from Syracuse University
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