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Financial Friday: What If I Struggle to Pay Student Loans?

There may be help available. For the federal student loans, students either select or are assigned a repayment plan shortly after graduation, but if you encounter a significant financial hardship, these can be changed at any time.

Betty Thorne, Ph.D.

There is no cost for changing these plans. The Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid can connect you to your loan servicer to discuss options. For example, two repayment options are the income-driven plans and the income-sensitive plan.

The income-driven repayment plans can spread the payment over a longer period, which in turn results in a lower monthly payment and is often used where federal student loan payments are high when compared to your income. In some cases, for a limited time, the payment might be as low as $0. Most federal loans can qualify for Income-Driven Repayment plans. Parent PLUS and Perkins loans may also be eligible if those federal student loans are consolidated with other federal student loans.

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D., Stetson University professor

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D.

The Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan is for borrowers who have Federal Family Education Loans. The payments under this plan also vary based on your annual income.

Keep in mind that paying back the loan over a longer period may mean that you pay more interest. And, for every year a loan payment is modified, you must re-certify your financial need.

Additionally, some federal student loans are eligible for loan forgiveness. Examples of common programs include loan forgiveness for employment in a public service job or as a teacher.

Valrie Chambers, Ph.D., associate professor of taxation and accounting, and Betty Thorne, Ph.D., professor of statistics and the Christian R. Lindback Chair of Business Administration, write Financial Fridays to bolster students’ financial wellness including preventing financial mistakes, safeguarding their assets and identity, and thinking critically about financial decisions. For questions, contact Valrie Chambers at Valrie.chambers@stetson.edu.

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