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Dear Wendy

Student Loan Problems

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  • #870453 Reply

    So, great news – my wife moved got a tenure track position at her college – great, right? Unfortunately, with an actual steady income her student loan payments are now through the roof because the income based financing had changed. It’s obvious we need to refinance – she has a large amount of federal loans and a smaller amount of private loans, totaling about $120,000.

    I don’t know where to begin. I don’t have any student loans so I’ve never really dealt with this before. My wife has discalculia – basically number dyslexia – and due to assorted health problems doesn’t have the capacity to figure this out, so it’s up to me. I don’t know where to begin honestly.

    There’s a lot of companies out there that offer loan consolidation but I don’t know where to begin. Is this a financial planner situation? Should we fake our deaths and move to Mexico? Bankruptcy? Has anyone dealt with this before?

    #870454 Reply

    We’ve had such a hard year and this is the last thing we need.

    #870502 Reply

    I would recommend having her grant you access to the loans, like I know for my own that I had to just fill out a form for my husband to be able to access the entire account online from Navient. Regardless of whether you have that option, she should give you the passwords and you should do a deep dive into them. Call them and discuss what options are available to you.

    You should definitely consult a financial planner.
    Good luck.

    #870505 Reply

    She might qualify for some loan forgiveness:

    But I agree, would be worth it to speak to a financial planner to find out your best options.

    #870546 Reply
    #870585 Reply

    I have quite a bit of post-grad (vet medical) school debt and I reconsolidated a few years ago. It certainly is daunting so I feel for you! My friend recommended an amazing company that we both worked with called PGpresents:

    I believe I paid a small consulting fee, maybe $250. The owner, Paul Gerrard, spent 1-2 hours talking to me about my income, goals, fears, lifestyle, etc. and ultimately presented me with several options for reconsolidation plans. I definitely felt much more knowledgeable and empowered with this information and I will have approximately half of my sizeable loans paid off within a 10 year plan. I know he works with mostly medical/dental/veterinary professionals as you can see from the website. Good luck, there are options out there that don’t involve faking your own death.

    #870766 Reply

    I feel you on the loans – I am still paying off my master’s degree which I completed in 2008. As Anonymousse mentioned above, have your wife add you as an authorized payer so you have access to all the information. If refinancing, you might want to first approach your bank or credit union to see if they have lower interest rates available for payment. In many ways banks are easier to manage then secondary sites since you already check it regularly and their platforms tend to be more user friendly. If you go through an external agency such as SoFi, double check their rating on the BBB and make sure the terms are not variable (which means interest rates will change).

    If you don’t end up refinancing, you can adjust the timeline for your repayments so instead of 10 years, it is 25. This increases the interest but you can always make additional payments to the principal amount on your own timeline.

    Finally, you might want to check and see if your wife’s university offers financial services for their faculty – my large state university does and it is really helpful. If they do not have them, I would highly recommend seeking out a financial adviser and getting professional advice. Congratulations to your wife and good luck!

    #870821 Reply

    I refinanced with First Republic, and it’s been the best decision ever. I’ve made more progress paying down my loans in the past 1.5 years than I had made in the 7 years prior with my previous lender. They do have a lot of requirements for borrowers that make this option not right for everyone, but it’s worth looking into. Their bankers will give you a lot of good advice on the phone for free. If you know someone who refinanced with them, ask for a referral code – I think that gets you (and the referring person) each $300-$400 if you’re accepted.

    #870841 Reply

    Former financial aid counselor here. I recommend that you do NOT refinance the federal loans into a private loan without very serious consideration. Federal loans have a lot of benefits (like that income based repayment plan you were on) that will disappear if you lump them into a private loan. Additionally, if there’s ever going to be any loan forgiveness (which, yes, is very rare, but your wife should also be eligible working at a nonprofit college for 10+ years) it will be on the federal loans, NOT the private ones.

    Can your wife talk to a financial aid counselor either at the college she teaches at or the college where she took out the loan? That could help her decide her best options.

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