I Feel Like I’m Drowning in Student Loan Debt and Can’t Breath. – Britt

“Dear Steve,

My husband and I have a huge amount of student loans and some credit card debt.

Thankfully, we aren’t behind in any payments. The problem is that my lonas are getting ready to come out of their grace period. We owe about $118,000 in loans (about $42,000 is direct loans). The rest are private loans through Chase and AES. He also has one from Great Lakes Loans. We owe about $19,000 in credit card debt combined. We both work and have a combined income of about $62,000 yearly. My grace period ends in March and we are already paying about $1250 per month in loan and credit card payments. We also have a $350 monthly payment on our car, not to mention rent and other expenses. I am just feeling very overwhelmed with all of this. My loans are going to add an aditional $500 a month to our payments. I just don’t know how we are going to make it. We have very little savings, and our debt to income ratio makes it incredibly hard to get approved for anything (it was really hard to get an auto loan). I would just love to be able to consolidate our student loan debt to get a lower payment amount each month. I hate that we will be paying on them for so long, but we need breathing room now. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. I just feel like we are drowning in the debt and will never have anything to show for it.


Dear Britt,

Let’s tackle this in steps.

  1. Look into the Income Based Repayment (IBR) program for your government backed student loans. Let’s see if we can’t get that payment down to give you some breathing room.
  2. We will need to evaluate if you can get some payment reductions through that program that will allow you to make ends meet and save each month.
  3. If that does not do the trick I want you to use the free How to Get Out of Debt Calculator to review your options in dealing with your other debt.
  4. We’ll then have to look at dealing with your other debt to make room for your student loan payments and savings.
  5. On the private student loans, there is little/no assistance available.

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


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.
Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

Steve Rhode

2 thoughts on “I Feel Like I’m Drowning in Student Loan Debt and Can’t Breath. – Britt”

  1. When Obama created the changes to IBR for federal loans he also implemented a consolidation plan. I could be wrong, but I’m thinking that plan may give the opportunity to consolidate federal & private loans into one (as long as there is at least one federal loan). I don’t want to give you false hope, just suggesting you look into that. If I can find any details I’ll post them here.
    In the meatime I recommend reviewing details about the IBR plan at ibrinfo.org.

    Also, check out http://forgivestudentloandebt.com/ for general info about the student loan crisis and what we can do to fix it!

    Good luck to you Britt!

    • FYI,

      Here are the eligible loans:

      The following federal education loans are eligible for consolidation into a Direct Consolidation Loan:

      Subsidized Loans:

      Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
      Direct Subsidized Loans
      Subsidized Federal Consolidation Loans
      Direct Subsidized Consolidation Loans
      Federal Insured Student Loans (FISL)
      Guaranteed Student Loans (GSL)
      Unsubsidized Loans:

      Unsubsidized and Nonsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
      Direct Unsubsidized Loans, including Direct Unsubsidized Loans (TEACH) (converted from TEACH Grants)
      Unsubsidized Federal Consolidation Loans
      Direct Unsubsidized Consolidation Loans
      Federal PLUS Loans (for parents or for graduate and professional students)
      Direct PLUS Loans (for parents or for graduate and professional students)
      Direct PLUS Consolidation Loans
      Federal Perkins Loans
      National Direct Student Loans (NDSL)
      National Defense Student Loans (NDSL)
      Federal Supplemental Loans for Students (SLS)
      Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)
      Auxiliary Loans to Assist Students (ALAS)
      Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL)
      Health Education Assistance Loans (HEAL)
      Nursing Student Loans (NSL)
      Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS)

      Ineligible Loans

      Some loans are always ineligible for consolidation. While these loans may not be included in a Direct Consolidation Loan, they may be considered in the calculation of the maximum repayment period under the Graduated or Extended Repayment Plan. These include but are not limited to the following:

      Loans made by a state or private lender and not guaranteed by the federal government
      Primary Care Loans
      Law Access Loans
      Medical Assist Loans
      PLATO Loans


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