Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts Sallie Mae Student Loans

I’ll Pay 36 Years on My Student Loan Debt. Will the Obama Student Loan Program Help? – Sandra

“Dear Steve,

I’m 47 years old and have been paying back my student loan for 24 years. At some point, I consolidated my loans with Sallie Mae. It’s categorized as UNSUB; however, I’m pretty sure some of the loans were, in fact, subsidized… but I guess that’s irrelevant. There have been times I’ve gone into forebearance but generally speaking, I’ve been paying this loan off for 24 years and won’t be done with it for another 12. The original priniciple balance was $24,244. After having been paying for 24 years…. with interest, my balance is now $33,896.

Granted, now …. I can actually afford the loan payment but there have been times I have struggled… most of those 24 years, in fact.

Given the status of UNSUB of my Sallie Mae Loan and the fact that I can afford the payment affect my potential of qualifying for the ’20 year forgiveness’ portion of Obama’s plan? I have also been working for a nonprofit for 8 years.

24 years and the loan is still 10K MORE than what I borrowed.
12 more years to go.

Anything that’s changed for student loans over the past years….I haven’t qualified for because I consolidated. The changes have always been aimed to help new borrowers.

Can I look forward to forgiveness and being able to free my life of this debt?


Dear Sandra,

The first thing I’d suggest is that you contact the Federal Student Aid folks here and ask them to check to see if any of your loans do have a subsidized status. In that case you may be eligible for current programs.

However, even programs like the Income Based Repayment (IBR) program, which is similar to the proposed Obama student loan program, only eliminate your debt after 20 years ON the program.That would not be much help to you.

If your loans are government backed you could be eligible for the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness program.

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Eligible loans include Federal Direct Stafford Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized), Federal Direct PLUS Loans, and Federal Direct Consolidation Loans. Borrowers in the Direct Loan program do not need to consolidate in order to qualify for loan forgiveness. Borrowers in the FFEL program will need to consolidate into Direct Loans.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

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Steve Rhode

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.

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