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I Went to College 21 Years Ago and Still Struggling With Student Loans. – Cheryl

“Dear Steve,

I was divorced in 1990 and went back to school to earn a degree. Graduated summa cum laude in 1995 with a degree in English. Toiled away in low-paying jobs to support my children. Got forbearance on loans, but interest accrued. Went to grad school to try to better my situation, but family responsibilities forced me to withdraw after three semesters.

This doubled my principle. Principle and interest put my indebtedness at nearly $125,000!! Though I have a decent job now, my credit score is trashed so I’m paying outrageous interest on my car loan and my insurance premiums have increased as well. The monthly payments on my student loans is around $600/month. There is no way I can afford this. I worry about this constantly and am at a complete loss as to how to overcome this obstacle.

How can I repay this debt?

Cheryl”

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The Answer

Dear Cheryl,

Is this a private or government student loan?

Please post your answer in the comments below.

I Went to College 21 Years Ago and Still Struggling With Student Loans.   Cheryl
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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Cheryl Andres

    Unfortunately, due to my daughter’s condition, I’m unable to take on an additional job.  I really don’t want to give up my current job because they offer good medical coverage, which we desperately need.  Furthermore, my current employer understands my daughter’s situation and has been extremely generous in allowing flexibility in my work schedule.  Looks like there really isn’t a solution.  Should I start buying lottery tickets?  :(

  • Cheryl Andres

    Unfortunately, due to my daughter’s condition, I’m unable to take on an additional job.  I really don’t want to give up my current job because they offer good medical coverage, which we desperately need.  Furthermore, my current employer understands my daughter’s situation and has been extremely generous in allowing flexibility in my work schedule.  Looks like there really isn’t a solution.  Should I start buying lottery tickets?  :(

  • Steve Rhode

    There might be a little room for some reductions in the budget but are there any opportunities for additional income?

    Money problems are resolved with increasing income, reducing expenses or a combination of the both.

  • Cheryl Andres

    Here is my monthly budget:
    Rent     825
    Car Payment  450
    Groceries    250
    Loan*     170
    Car/Renter Insurance**  170
    Revolving Credit   130
    Gas/Electric    130
    Cable/Internet  120
    Gas in car     60
    Credit Cards  50
    School lunches   50
    Medical   85
    Cell phone   70

    Then there are those  other expenses that crop up:
    Vehicle registration (annual)   75
    Public School registration (annual)  500
    Oil Changes (quarterly)   20

    Clothes/shoes
    Car repairs/maintenance (e.g. I need new tires – $300)

    *  One of the grad school loans in rehab
    ** Due to credit score and an accident, premium was raised to $250!  Increasing my deductible to $2500 lowered my premium to $170.

  • Steve Rhode

    Tell me about your other expenses. Do you have any other monthly obligations that you pay? Credit cards, etc?

  • Cheryl Andres

    Thanks, Steve.  I have looked into IBR.  That’s where the $600/month payment came from.  Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration the last two semesters of grad school.  When those loans are added in, monthly payments come closer to $900!  Unfortunately, the Dept. of Education considers income only.  There is no consideration for the fact that cost of living has increased steadily, but I haven’t received a raise in three years, or the fact that the new biennium budget in Wisconsin effectively cuts my pay by 8%, or the fact that I have a special-needs child.  Making severe cuts to my budget, I could free up about $100-200/month.  But that doesn’t come anywhere near my monthly payment amount.  I’m competely overwhelmed by this situation.

  • Steve Rhode

    In that case look into the Income Based Repayment program. IBR.

    Ask your servicer for details. It will give you a payment based on your income if you qualify.

  • Cheryl Andres

    Hi Steve -
    I’m pretty sure they’re all government loans – subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

    Thanks!
    Cheryl

  • Cheryl Andres

    Hi Steve -
    I’m pretty sure they’re all government loans – subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans.

    Thanks!
    Cheryl

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      In that case look into the Income Based Repayment program. IBR.

      Ask your servicer for details. It will give you a payment based on your income if you qualify.

      • Cheryl Andres

        Thanks, Steve.  I have looked into IBR.  That’s where the $600/month payment came from.  Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration the last two semesters of grad school.  When those loans are added in, monthly payments come closer to $900!  Unfortunately, the Dept. of Education considers income only.  There is no consideration for the fact that cost of living has increased steadily, but I haven’t received a raise in three years, or the fact that the new biennium budget in Wisconsin effectively cuts my pay by 8%, or the fact that I have a special-needs child.  Making severe cuts to my budget, I could free up about $100-200/month.  But that doesn’t come anywhere near my monthly payment amount.  I’m competely overwhelmed by this situation.

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        Tell me about your other expenses. Do you have any other monthly obligations that you pay? Credit cards, etc?

      • Cheryl Andres

        Here is my monthly budget:
        Rent     825
        Car Payment  450
        Groceries    250
        Loan*     170
        Car/Renter Insurance**  170
        Revolving Credit   130
        Gas/Electric    130
        Cable/Internet  120
        Gas in car     60
        Credit Cards  50
        School lunches   50
        Medical   85
        Cell phone   70

        Then there are those  other expenses that crop up:
        Vehicle registration (annual)   75
        Public School registration (annual)  500
        Oil Changes (quarterly)   20

        Clothes/shoes
        Car repairs/maintenance (e.g. I need new tires – $300)

        *  One of the grad school loans in rehab
        ** Due to credit score and an accident, premium was raised to $250!  Increasing my deductible to $2500 lowered my premium to $170.

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        There might be a little room for some reductions in the budget but are there any opportunities for additional income?

        Money problems are resolved with increasing income, reducing expenses or a combination of the both.

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