I have paid Navient/Sallie Mae roughly $63k over the past 10 years but my balance never goes down. My original principal was around $40k. Should I consider just stopping payments?
I can certainly understand how you would feel this way. You are making the payments required but it’s not really reducing your debt.
What you have completed here is a Master Class on how financing works. Minimum payments are not designed to help you get out of debt. They are simply the minimum the lender will agree to accept. Some payments cover mostly just the interest you agreed to pay when you took out the loan, others pay the loan off faster.
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For example, on federal student loans, the regular standard payment is very high but it will pay the balance off in full in ten years.
Private student loan lenders determine their own formula and the number of decades they are willing to string you along.
But even federal student loans offer a debt for life option. The income-based payment plan can leave you owing more than you started with and be a terrible trap.
If these are federal student loans you should continue to pay the loans. The consequences of not paying will impact you for the rest of your life.
Only you can decide if you are sick of treading water on these loans and can afford to send the monthly payment required to pay these loans off.
If these are private student loans then strategically defaulting is an option but it’s not a path I would select without a plan in place.